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…says diaspora wants to invest in numerous projects, sectors
Cognizant of the prevalent complaint from those in the diaspora about the red tape hindering them from doing business with their homeland, the Diaspora Unit in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is working assiduously to dismantle that red tape and improve the ease of doing business. Diaspora Unit Head Rosalinda Rasul
Diaspora Unit Head Rosalinda Rasul was a guest on a webinar hosted by the Caribbean Policy Consortium and Guyana Business Journal. In her presentation, she spoke about the efforts the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, through her unit, has been making.
“We have lots of projects and interest in pretty much every single sector that you can think of. And we didn’t just receive that interest and point people in various directions; we literally walked alongside them every step of the way,” she said.
“To ensure that if there were any challenges they were facing, we would basically come in and help mitigate those challenges and help, whether with the land authorities or the tax authorities.
“If they need to talk with GO-Invest on incentives for investment, we were there in every meeting, and we’re facilitating that process,” she said.
According to Rasul, the Diaspora Unit is actively working on ensuring that customer service and the ease of doing business is improved. She admitted that a frequent complaint of the diaspora is that their ideas are sent to Ministries and are never heard of again.
“We’ve been engaging the policymakers at the very highest levels, and they are committed to ensuring that some of those very bureaucracies are actually removed. I think you will see that happening as we move along in transitioning Guyana to, one: make it more readily available for a different kind of more modern, fast-paced economic transformation that will actually target a lot of our diaspora coming from more sophisticated backgrounds and banking sectors.”
Rasul also noted that the unit itself has been directly interfacing with members of the diaspora, and helping them through the processes.
“We actually decided that the best thing to do is to start getting those structures in place. Whether they are bureaucratic challenges that the diaspora would have faced, what are some of their tensions, and we needed to act on that. So we started doing a lot of work with various diaspora groups, and particularly a lot of individuals have been coming to our office on a daily basis, sometimes 10 to 12 meetings on a daily basis, to engage them on their interest in politics, and how best we can engage them,” Rasul said.
Since its return to office, the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) Government has made engaging the diaspora a priority, particularly at a pivotal time of Guyana’s development. Apart from diaspora engagement, the Government has been engaging Guyanese missions, consulates, consuls-general and honorary consuls across the globe. This has extended to Guyanese organisations in North America and elsewhere, to update them on developmental projects.
An allocation of $50 million has been earmarked for the Diaspora and Remigration Unit for staffing, internships, and providing the positive information that would attract possible remigrants.
The Government has always urged the Guyanese diaspora, which according to Foreign Secretary Robert Persaud has a critical role to play in Guyana’s economic development, to tap into the opportunities available under the Local Content Act and the local content framework it supports.