Ambassador Ishmael has been promoting trade and investment
Stabroek News
March 3, 2002

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Dear Editor,

I refer to Mr Kenneth A. David's letter in the Stabroek News on February 15 in which he asked about how many investments Ambassador Odeen Ishmael took to Guyana. I feel that since our ambassadors are facilitators (meeting potential investors, providing information and establishing contacts for them in Guyana), that question is somewhat unfair. It is for GOINVEST to provide that answer.

Only a few days before, Mr Earl Singh, one of those investors, actually provided some answers [ please note: link provided by LOSP web site ] that Mr David's letter asked. The potential investor goes to Guyana and he determines if he is willing to make investments.

Mr David is sure that the Ambassador never sought help from Guyana to promote investments. However, I know for a fact that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs advertised for a trade and investment attache for the embassy in 2000, and I went to the embassy with a friend who was dropping off his application there. If the ministry cannot send such an officer there, certainly this is a handicap, and the ministry should say why it has not yet done so.

Significantly, when I was waiting at the embassy with my friend, a gentleman associated with the hydro power scheme being pursued on the Potaro River came in to meet the Ambassador. Later, I learned that Ambassador Ishmael played a part in getting that investment to Guyana.

Nevertheless, Mr David's letter did bring to the fore the need for adequate staffing at our embassies.

But what we have to understand is that our ambassadors are not jacks of all trades. Ambassador Ishmael may not be an economist, but he has been doing a lot to promote trade and investment. I was at a forum in Baltimore two years ago when he spoke with some business persons about the investment climate in Guyana. He was very frank by pointing out the problems and pitfalls as well as the positives. I do know subsequently a team from the Maryland State Government went to Guyana in 2002 to look at the possibility of establishing a sheep farming operation in the intermediate savannahs. I myself went with two business associates in July 2001 to check out the investment situation, but we decided to hold back because we felt the political climate with opposition led unrest was not proper at the time. We will be going again in August this year.

Further, there are trade representatives in a number of states such as Texas, Georgia, Florida, and California. They are supervised from the embassy and have been responsible for taking groups of investors to Guyana from time to time.

I want to wish Dr Kenneth King good luck in his post. I am sure that the government will give him all he asks for. The government I hope will do likewise for its political supporters who are ambassadors and not abandon them in the middle of the sea in a boat without paddles.

Allow me also to congratulate Ambassador Ishmael for winning the Martin Luther King Legacy Award this year. As a Guyanese American I feel immensely proud that a citizen of Guyana was given this prestigious honour. The awards committee obviously felt that he is doing a great deal to promote Guyana and also the values of Martin Luther King. It is unfortunate that I could not yet read in your paper any congratulatory message from the President or the Leader of the Opposition to this Guyanese who has made me and so many other Guyanese in the United States very immensely proud. I hope President Jagdeo and his Government will do something suitable to honour Ambassador Ishmael for bringing glory to Guyana.

Your faithfully,

George McIntosh