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President Irfaan Ali has reaffirmed the Government’s commitment to create the environment needed to attract investment as he turned the sod on Saturday for the construction of the $3 billion Aiden Hotel on Robb and Oronoque Streets, Georgetown.
The boutique-style hotel, under the Best Western Hotel and Resorts franchise, would be the first of its kind in the Caribbean, the Department of Public Information (DPI) reported.
Added to that, Arimu Investments Incorporated, the developer of the project, is a 100 per cent Guyanese-owned company. “For us to move forward, for us to embrace the growth and development that will take place in Guyana, there is need for transition… For us to truly realise the opportunities that lie ahead of us, we have to do two things: understand that we cannot do it alone and understand that we can only do it by coming together,” President Ali said.
The President said there is need for barriers within business to be broken down. He urged businesses to form consortiums to ensure 100 per cent of the linkages of the oil and gas sector comes to Guyana. Dr. Ali, in his message to investors, said the private sector can rest assured that they would have the Government’s support.
He added that transformation has to be incorporated into every aspect of Guyana to achieve optimal benefit from whatever ventures are undertaken. Therefore, the Government will ensure the investment climate is secure, investors are protected and that policies and incentives guarantee they get a fair return on their investment. “We have to create the conducive environment which is quite different from the enabling environment. The conducive environment is where you make it easy for the investment to progress… This is where the City Council, the Central Housing and Planning Authority, the Environmental Protection Agency have to step it up.
No modern society can operate with an approval system of one, two and three years. It has to change and it has to change quickly in response to the development agenda of our country. We have to transition to a professional approach, a business-oriented approach and that is why we are moving aggressively on the Single Window approval system,” President Ali noted.
The Single Window System, the President said, calls for the amendment of laws, but there is political will by the Government to get it done. He also noted that the Government is committed to creating policies that are practical, adaptable, flexible and responsive to the local environment.
Dr. Ali pointed out that with the level of investment coming to Guyana, at least 3,000 Guyanese have to be trained for the service sector alone. While he encouraged investors to train their employees, the President also said the Government would be establishing a hospitality institute to train workers for the sector.
Meanwhile, Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce, Hon. Oneidge Walrond said it has been less than six months since Expressions of Interest for hotels were published and already there is a sod-turning exercise. The Minister said this is an indication of investor confidence in the Government, country and economy. “Events such as this one sends a clear signal that the concept of expanding and developing our tourism sector is not an idle dream of our Government. They demonstrate that the robust tourism product we envision can become a reality,” she said.
Additionally, CEO the Guyana Office for Investment (G0-Invest) Mr. Peter Ramsaroop said Guyana’s development is on a rapid growth trajectory. The country is at a stage where it will deliver wealth to its people, he added. The Directors of Arimu Investments Incorporated and developers of the Aiden Hotel are Geraldo and Lorenzo Alphonso. The 74,000 square feet hotel which will feature 101 smart rooms, and is slated to be completed within 18 months. Construction is set to start on Sunday. During the construction phase of the project 150 persons will be employed and 50 when operational. Mr. Geraldo Alphonso said the company will utilise the Guyanese workforce, whether skilled or unskilled, before seeking an alternate workforce. To date, he said, several Guyanese engineers, piledrivers, steel fabricators and quality control officers and others have been employed. Minister within the Ministry of Housing and Water, Hon. Susan Rodrigues and other officials also attended the ceremony.