The Minister of Business Dominic Gaskin and a team from the Ministry of Business, which included GO-Invest CEO Owen Verwey, visited Region 8. The two-day visit (June 23-24, 2017) to Mahdia included discussions with its administration and business community and a commitment to supporting the planned Regional Agricultural – Commercial Exhibition as well as a firsthand look at the former Tumatumari Hydro Project’ which is expected to be rehabilitated to provide clean, renewable energy to Mahdia in keeping with Guyana’s Green State agenda.
Minister of Business Dominic Gaskin began his visit with a meeting with the Chairman and some of the members of the Regional Democratic Council (RDC). Discussions centered on business and tourism in the Region.
The issues covered included the upcoming Regional Agricultural Commercial Exhibition (RACE), making Mahdia a sustainable economic hub for the region, an upcoming tourism workshop, the economic impact of ongoing and planned infrastructural development, and realising the value that Guyana’s Green State image can add to economic activity in the Region.
Minister Gaskin encouraged the RDC to help identify investment projects for the region based on Regional priorities and offered his Ministry’s support in developing, preparing and promoting those projects for potential investors.
Regional Chairman Bonaventure Fredericks stated that agriculture is being discussed with a view to putting forward a viable plan for the sector in the Region. The Regional Executive Officer (REO) Gavin Gounga noted the potential of the Region to grow its own food and its experiment with Irish Potato and Hill Rice. He said that other crops that could be cultivated in the sub-region include tomato, turmeric, and cabbage.
Minister Gaskin outlined the importance of the newly formed Mahdia Chamber of Commerce (MCC) to the Region’s economic development. Both the Ministry of Business and the MCC have pledged full support for the upcoming Regional Agricultural Commercial Exhibition (RACE) and their commitment to ensuring its success. Chief Executive Officer of GO-Invest Mr. Owen Verwey was able to address a number of issues related to business and investment.
Members of the Chamber of Commerce highlighted, as one of the Region’s major issues, the need for training in tourism management if the Region’s potential is to be realized, and also emphasized the need for affordable electricity supply to businesses which would enable them to operate more efficiently and competitively.
Members stated that consideration should also be placed on businesses being able to get their business registration and tax compliance without having to travel to the Essequibo Coast or Georgetown as is currently required.
Minister Gaskin informed members that the Department of Tourism within the Ministry of Business would be visiting Mahdia in July to hold a tourism workshop with local stakeholders. This is expected to increase involvement of regional stakeholders in the development of tourism in their communities.
The Minister also underscored Government’s commitment to a Green State development pathway and explained how the Region can benefit from a global value system that places a high emphasis on protecting the environment. He suggested that the Green State could add a premium to products from the region which could offset the high cost of transportation that producers face. He also stressed the economic impact that the government’s infrastructure development programme will have on Mahdia as better roads are built in and around the community. The paving of the Linden to Mabura road, he said would greatly improve life in the community.
Minister Gaskin pointed out that the Tumatumari Hydro Project had the potential to provide affordable renewable to the entire community and that this was in keeping with Guyana’s green economic pathway. He later visited the site of the project and got a first-hand look at what was left of its physical infrastructure.
The visit concluded with a ‘walk about’ in the commercial centre of Mahdia where a network of paved roads is in the final stages of construction and has already brought much relief to local commuters. The team made a courtesy call on the students of the Mahdia Secondary School at its dormitories where GO-Invest CEO Mr. Owen Verwey donated a number of footballs to the students.