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Last evening at the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry annual awards ceremony, President Ali encouraged overseas-based Guyanese to pool their resources and partner with the private sector to invest in the building of luxury condominiums in upscale areas in Guyana.
The president’s most recent call is among a series of calls to members of the Diaspora who are encouraged to return with their significant savings to retire and invest in Guyana. In response to this publication’s outreach to multiple returnees, the prevailing response is that the government has not been supportive and in many cases have made moves to undo land and property contracts, to stall proposals and to engage competing interests to replicate the work and businesses of multiple Diaspora investors–many of whom, turn out to be African Guyanese.
Members of the Diaspora, many of whom are older, take significant financial, health and security risks in returning to invest in a climate where the government is not opposed to undoing contracts, arresting critics, engaging in competition with the private sector by expanding government’s involvement in business opportunities and engaging in outright moves to undermine members of the Diaspora.
According to feedback from local Afro-Guyanese business people, local citizens who are not identified as friends of the government of Guyana are treated in the very same way. Members of the Diaspora who wish to remain anonymous due to fears of reprisal report that until the government commits to inclusive governance, equal access to opportunity for all citizens (local and diaspora), ending massive corruption and leading in a fair and just way, the landscape for foreign and diaspora investment will be fraught with risk.
According to several Diaspora returnees, Investors must decide for themselves after thorough analysis whether they wish to risk their lifetime savings with a government led by petty, insecure and biased persons. The prevailing view is that those who take the risk will have to deal with the consequences.