Linden Business Summit must be landmark in economic progress – Min. Jordan
─“We want to establish a welcoming economic environment for all, not a select few”
DPI, Guyana, Friday, July 26, 2019
“In these turbulent times, where partisanship seems to trump partnership, this Business Summit can contribute to advancing the principles and foundation on which this Coalition Government was built,” Minister of Finance, Hon. Winston Jordan as he opened the Linden Business Development Summit.
The event held at Watooka House, Linden, attracted many participants who are integrally involved with business and commerce in the town. Expressing his hope that it evolves into an annual event, Minister Jordan said he expects the Summit to strengthen ties, “and create new vistas in trade and commerce not merely in the business sector, but across the spectrum of positive people-to-people relations.”
He urged stakeholders to not only address key issues affecting business opportunities and development in Linden but to also discuss green businesses and oil and gas as they have the potential to shape Guyana’s trajectory in the medium to long term.
Reflecting on the theme for the Business Week and Exposition’s theme, “New Horizons, New Opportunities in 2019” the minister noted:
“With a mere five months to the end of 2019… it becomes apt if you were to drop “in 2019”. I would then find the revised theme “New Horizons, New Opportunities” to be fitting, at this juncture, when Guyana is poised to become a major oil-producing country.”
Reiterating that Guyana is open for business, Minister Jordan said the Coalition Government is continually reforming and adjusting policies, rules and regulations to make the investment climate more favourable, predictable, facilitative and friendly. This was a marked change from what obtained previously.
He added, “…when we entered Office: a situation of who knew whom and who could have ‘hobnobbed’ with the then political elite, were favoured with concessions, prime land and property at peppercorn rates, and other giveaways… My government has taken the courageous step to remove this parasitic approach to one in favour of equity. In short, we want to establish a welcoming economic environment for all, not a select few.”
Listing what he described as a bold, dynamic approach, via numerous measures, towards economic reform, the Finance Minister reminded of the positive economic growth for the last four years.
He revealed that “our real growth of 4.1% was the highest over the past 4 years and the highest since 2014. In the recent Article IV Consultation Mission of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) – an impartial observer – this growth was spread across most sectors. It was to a large extent due to the energy and enterprise of private sector participation such as your good selves. And, many of you would by now, be familiar with the report of a NASDAQ contributor, which was reported widely in the local press.”
Citing the recognition of the need to bridge the coast with the hinterland, Minister Jordan highlighted the efforts to achieve balanced growth across the regions.
“All of us must play a role in laying strong foundations for the sustainable development of this town. He further added, “we should be focusing on all forms of investment… Every dollar spent by our government, every dollar disbursed by our development partners and every dollar invested by the private sector is a vote of confidence in the resilience and potential of Linden and its people.”
Minister Jordan congratulated Upper Demerara-Berbice for being the only region thus far to complete the Plan of Action for Regional Development (PARD) – a guide for its economic, social, environmental and other development. He listed several investment projects to be implemented. These include the Linden-Lethem road (the first leg – Mile Zero to Wisroc Junction – will commence in the third quarter), the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) financed design of the Mackenzie-Wismar Bridge (Construction is expected to start in 2020), the ongoing study for the upgrading of the Soesdyke-Linden Highway ( including the installation of lights), the $105M reconstruction of the Christianburg Primary School and Linden Waterfront Development Project.
Other potential business opportunities emphasised by the Finance Minister included the region’s tourism potential, agriculture, livestock breeding, aquaculture and forestry, manufacturing, textiles and garment industry, power generation and distribution, education, health services, infrastructure and real estate. The potential of Linden, with its highly-skilled workforce, “to contribute tangibly to the emerging oil and gas sector should be exploited vigorously,” Minister Jordan added.
The Linden Chamber of Industry Commerce and Development’s critical role in the town’s economic development was highlighted by the minister. He urged the body to stimulate and galvanize economic development by creating and developing business opportunities and job creation, via collaboration between the government and the business community.
Minister Jordan charged that “success is a destination that you must define for this region. It must represent the vision of a new vista; a new horizon; a new set of possibilities for the region – a change. That means you will need new skills and competencies. You will need to change to deal with success. The journey toward this new horizon brings new challenges and opportunities. How you handle these new challenges and opportunities will directly impact the speed at which you reach your destination. Without change, growth is not possible.”
Challenges such as the regularisation of industrial land were also recognised by the minister who noted the Heads of NICIL and the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission (GLSC) are working to bring about a speedy resolution to this problem. He also encouraged stakeholders to utilise the Linden Economic Network (LEN) financing facility’s services.
In closing, Minister Jordan congratulated the Linden Chamber of Industry Commerce and Development for organising the summit.
He further stated, “Our Government will champion all those who invest responsibly, who respect the environment and who have at heart, the achievement of peace and prosperity of our people. I look forward to a time when we can look back on this Summit, not just as the dawning of a splendid new era in the history of sustainable development for Linden and Region 10, but also as one of the landmarks of economic progress in Guyana.”