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–  Canadian High Commissioner“Countries that condone or do not have effective preventive measures in place to stop corruption will find that the investors who are ethical and conscious of their global image will choose to not invest.”- David DevinePresident Donald Ramotar yesterday went on the offensive against western diplomats and other critics of his government saying their actions help to create the negative images of Guyana that sometimes detract investors.Ramotar was speaking at the opening of the Guyana Investment Conference at the International Conference Centre, which was mainly organised by the diplomats.It was the Canadian High Commissioner, David Devine, who used his speech to address corruption. He said the insecurity that is created by unwillingness or an inability to enforce laws and regulations is considered by many investors to be the single greatest impediment to the decision to invest.President Donald Ramotar enjoys a joke with businessman John Willems at the opening of the forum.One of the goals of the two-day investment conference is to outline the impact of bribery and corruption on investment and discuss international best practices.“Countries that condone or do not have effective preventive measures in place to stop corruption will find that the investors who are ethical and conscious of their global image will choose to not invest. There still may be investment deals; however these deals may be accompanied by uncertain terms that will not offer the same integrity and commitment to the country and its peoples,” Devine stated.President Ramotar picked up the Canadian High Commissioner on his talk of corruption.He repeated earlier statements admitting that there was corruption, but not as it is portrayed by others. To back up his case, he pointed to revelations in TV programmes organised on state television as his benchmark for determining the extent of the problem.Ramotar said that in seven programmes, no case of “strong, entrenched” corruption was established.“We are ready to do it again for anyone who is doubtful. We are ready to talk and to be very open on all of these subjects,” he stated.The President said that what is not recognised is all the procedures and processes the current PPP/C government have put in place to fight corruption in Guyana. He said that before there was no tendering system, but now “all our tenders are published openly.”Ramotar said that even the so-called “secret deals” have been advertised in the very newspapers that sometimes “repeat this nonsense”. He said that repetition of “some of these things” is what helps to manufacture and engineer the perception of corruption.The Canadian High Commissioner said investors pursue investment opportunities in locations where practices such as child labour, bribery and corrupt practices are seen as social ills that have no place in business dealings.He said that the investment conference was a necessary start to discuss best practices to help Guyana to forge its own investment path. He urged that the dialogue take place in a constructive manner.“This forum should not be seen as an opportunity to play the blame game or to gain political points, but rather to discuss Guyana’s investment realities and to identify a roadmap for the way forward,” the Canadian High Commissioner said.President Ramotar accused diplomats of overstepping their boundaries and taking positions without prior consultation. On this front, he blasted the United States government for downgrading Guyana in its annual Trafficking in Persons report.He said Guyana was on Tier 2 last year, but was this year placed on the Tier 2 Watch list. According to Ramotar, the country had done nothing differently and so he could not understand how it was downgraded. He said that year after year the report fails to take into account Guyana’s realities.“Year after year, the report is inconsistent with its method of ranking our country. The report fails to take into account the reports and facts Guyana submits,” Ramotar stated.“Here again we see how subjective and unfair positions can harm the reputation of our country. Reputation is important in attracting investment.”Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh (left) and Canadian High Commission David Devine in conversation after the opening of the Guyana Investment Conference.President Ramotar also used his speech to take a swipe at the U.S government on revelations by former spy agency contractor Edward Snowden of its secret surveillance operations.“We have a free and open society. We do not interfere in people’s privacy. We do not read their mail or anything like that. That is an era I hope that is past forever in our country,” Ramotar stated.The Investment Conference is a multi-stakeholder collaboration with several partners including the High Commission of Canada,Wholesale China Jerseys, the Government of Guyana, the European Union, the United States Embassy, the British High Commission, the United Nations Development Programme, the Inter-American Development Bank,Cheap NFL Jerseys China, REPSOL, Pacific Rubiales, the Private Sector Commission, the Beharry Group of Companies (specifically, GBTI and NAFICO) and the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry.High Commissioner Devine said that globally,Cheap Mens Jordan Sneakers, the demand for investment dollars is becoming increasingly limited and competitive, and this is true even for countries like Guyana that are blessed with extraordinary natural wealth.“Investment decisions are made in dollars and cents. Countries that are successful in securing investment funds from reputable lenders understand that they have to take the necessary steps to create an investment climate that is conducive to attractive investors,” the envoy asserted.President Ramotar said the government has been working constantly to improve the conditions and the environment for investment. He said that government has been investing heavily, mainly in infrastructure,Supply Authentic NFL Jerseys, to encourage investment in the productive sectors.Together with this, he said there has been investment in education, health and social services and upgrading the legislative framework. All of this, he emphasised, is important to make Guyana an attractive place for doing business.“Today, we have international investors demonstrating a strong positive response to the environment we have established,” Ramotar said. He listed investors such as the Blackstone Group through Sithe Global, the developers of the Amaila Falls Hydro Project, bauxite companies Rusal and Bosai, Guyana Goldfields, Repsol, Reunion Manganese and others. He also named the Marriott Hotel, even though the government is yet to name a single investor in the project.He said, too,Wholesale Jerseys, that domestic investors have been increasing and broadening their investment as a result of the positive environment.The President acknowledged that there are still problems in dealing with red tape and bottlenecks. He said that in order for the country to attract new investment, the government is pushing ahead with the Amaila Falls Hydro Project.Ramotar stated that one of the factors affecting investment is the lack of cheap energy,Cheap NFL Jerseys Stitched, and hence the Amaila Falls Hydro Project is intended to fill that need.Also addressing the opening of the conference was President of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), Dr. William Warren Smith. He said that macro-economic stability, human capital development and environmental management and climate resilience are among issues that need to be considered, were Guyana to attract investment and sustain growth.Since 1970, the CDB has partnered with Guyana on projects worth US$270 million. Just this year, the Bank approved a loan of US$34 million for the West Coast road improvement project.This year, the Bank also approved a new US$47 million country strategy for Guyana, which focuses on tackling poverty by increasing access to basic social services and improving skills to take advantage of  emerging job opportunities, enhancing competitiveness and responding to climate change through coastal protection.
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