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The Guyana Finance and Investment Roundtable held on January 20, 2021 highlighted the need for continuous improvement in infrastructure and human resources to attract new investment. As the country looks to reap the benefit of oil and gas development, companies in this sector are a crucial investment gateway. Countries and companies far and wide are assessing Guyanese to see if they want to make the kinds of investments that will drive jobs and drive economic growth for the next several decades. Investors are eager to stake their claim on the boom now underway but are keeping a keen eye on risk and political stability.
The tumultuous general elections of 2020 eroded confidence in our institutions and drew widespread criticism from our neighbors and allies. Investors were paying attention. When assessing countries for investment, some of the most important areas are political stability and infrastructure. I am sorry to say Guyana has rarely fared well on these fronts.
A favourable, stable business climate is more important now than ever before. As the world economy slowly recovers from the coronavirus pandemic, the need for energy is likely to increase and with it the market share of Guyanese oil. In less than a decade Guyana saw foreign direct investment balloon from an anemic US$270 million to over US$1.7 billion. This is real, tangible wealth and welcome news for the thousands of Guyanese vendors, suppliers and businesses poised the reap significant benefits in the near and long term.
This kind of investment can also be a gateway for so much more. Dollars pouring into hotels and real estate and restaurants will be critical to bringing us out of the economic crisis of COVID-19. Those jobs will create more wealth and more opportunities down the road as a generation of Guyanese sees new opportunities here at home. Every oil dollar we invest now in infrastructure or education helps build that cycle and could help us attract investments in sectors far beyond oil and gas.
An attractive investment climate is a signal to the markets that Guyana is open for business. As we chart a new course as an oil producing nation and regional power, let us continue to call for good governance and smart investment of oil money to open the gates to more wealth for Guyanese.