Ideological position must be clearly defined to attract investors
Stabroek News
May 5, 2002

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Dear Editor,

Guyana says that it wants to attract foreign private investment but does not behave in a manner consistent with this objective. We speak of embracing free market forces yet keep our hands firmly at our sides.

In establishing the enabling environment, the importance of a clear, uncomplicated investment strategy and code cannot be overstated. Guyana, even among its Third World competitors, is very late in producing this critical investment tool to acceptable international standards. Very simply, a well thought out strategy and code will tell prospective investors what to expect if they invest in Guyana. In Guyana's case, this document must be underpinned by a clear ideological statement. In other words, is Guyana a capitalist, socialist or communist country or some other ideological hybrid? If the country's ideological position is not clearly defined potential investors will draw their own conclusions sometimes based on the utterances and actions of the country's government.

As a case in point, I offer a recent statement emanating from the Presidential Secretariat, boasting that "democratic centralism" is alive and well in Guyana. Potential investors on learning this, wherever in the world they may be, will conclude that ideologically our political leadership, albeit in April of 2002, is still anchored in communism. The educated investor recognising that the oxymoron (mixed signal) democratic centralism does not operate in conceptual isolation or in an ideological vacuum, will then assume that his investment in Guyana may at any time be subject to central fiat. This may include the compulsory acquisition of the investor's property or the imposition of arbitrary and unfavourable changes to agreements or contracts with government probably in the interest of some or other political expediency.

Yours faithfully,

F. Hamley Case