By Durrant Pate
Several American funding agencies have collectively offered US$200 billion (approximately GY$42 trillion) in financing for businesses interested in investing in Guyana.
The announcement follows a meeting last week between US business interests led by CEO of the US International Development Finance Corporation (DFC), Adam Boehler and Guyana’s Private Sector Commission (PSC) and other commercial stakeholders. The US delegation represented six agencies – the Department of Treasury, the Export-Import Bank of the United States, the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation, the Department of State, the Department of National Security and the Department of Homeland Security.
Following the meeting, PSC Chairman Nicholas Boyer told a press conference that the funds would be made available in the form of loans, but, from all indications, the interest rates would be different from those already available to local investors. According to Boyer, “we looked at the quantum of funds they can lend… and from all the agencies in the room, we would be able to access US$200 billion.”
For his part, Boehler told the press conference that from his end, they (visiting US delegation) are able to back both US-based and Guyanese companies with financing. He added that the areas of focus would include reducing the cost of electricity; investments in small and medium-sized businesses, and investments in agriculture and farmers.
“This is exciting for Guyana… . I think it is a great time because we can grow in partnership with the US, which we clearly have affinity for, and a large Diaspora in, and target market for, agricultural exports.”
Adam Boehler, chief executive officer of the US International Development Finance Corporation
The DFC, through these projects, will be looking to increase the number of jobs and improve the livelihood of every Guyanese, while at the same time focusing on major infrastructural development. When asked about the agency’s capacity and whether only US-based companies would benefit from financing, Boehler told Guyanese journalists: “We have the ability to back US-based and other Guyanese companies… . We are American, we like them and there are great American-Guyanese companies, but we can back Guyanese companies in some of these efforts.”
Already, Boehler foresees a strong partnership with the local private sector and even said investments would be announced soon.
“This is exciting for Guyana… . I think it is a great time because we can grow in partnership with the US, which we clearly have affinity for, and a large Diaspora in, and target market for, agricultural exports,” he said.
This initiative comes just one month after a visit from US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who signed several agreements with Guyana. The framework agreement is in the form of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) which aims to provide a platform for US private sector investment to build Guyana’s physical infrastructure, energy sector, and digital economy transparently.
Boehler announced that his agency has committed US$3 million for a locally-led programme for citizens’ involvement in their government, and US$1.5 million, so that the youth of Guyana will be involved in democracy as well. Guyana was the second Caribbean country, joining Jamaica, to sign a MOU with the visiting American delegation of business interests.
Guyana President Irfaan Ali said the MOU would boost the business environment for US private sector investment in the country, particularly in the fields of energy, both non-renewables and renewables, along with infrastructure. He added that the MOU would also pave the way for the US private sector to expand its investment portfolio and partner with Guyana’s private sector.
Ali noted that these partnerships would help to meet Guyana’s broader infrastructural and downstream development needs and, by extension, drive economic growth and development as well as job creation. Private-sector investments are expected to increase, stretching from the construction of new shore bases to service the oil-and-gas sector, to new office complexes and other private development projects.
Guyana, which recently became a burgeoning oil state, is anticipating extensive development in the coming years – bridging Suriname and Guyana; a deep water harbour; a new Demerara Harbour Bridge across the Demerara River, and consistent revenue from a growing oil and gas sector.
Guyana is on a progressive path and to aid on that track the US has sent the team of persons representing the six agencies.