Focus will be on investment, technical and financial assistance By Chamanlall Naipaul
Guyana Chronicle
January 6, 2002

GUYANA’S newly appointed Ambassador to Belgium and Permanent Representative to the European Union, Dr Kenneth King, says his diplomatic focus will be on seeking investments for Guyana and ensuring that facilities available for technical and financial assistance are fully utilised.

In an interview with the Chronicle yesterday, Dr. King said he was genuinely interested in the modernisation of Guyana’s manufacturing and industrial sectors.

In this regard, he will pursue avenues to help in the diversification of Guyana’s economy by seeking investment in the non-traditional sectors of the economy and value-added manufacturing.

If Guyana is to achieve rapid and modern economic growth, the country must become an exporter of manufactured goods as well as primary products, Dr. King stressed. In this regard, Dr. King pointed out that he would be working in close collaboration with the Guyana Office for Investment (GOINVEST).

Dr. King said his involvement with the formulation of the National Development Strategy afforded him a wonderful opportunity to acquaint himself with the developmental needs of Guyana, especially in the rural and hinterland communities. This will “definitely serve me in good stead, during my duties in Europe, in terms of seeking appropriate technical aid and investment,” he added.

Part of Dr. King’s responsibility will be protecting the interests of traditional exports - sugar and rice - which still form the backbone of Guyana’s economy. In addition, he will represent Guyana in matters pertaining to the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

The new Ambassador explained that CARICOM countries negotiate with the WTO collectively, but it will be necessary for him to participate in discussions within CARICOM with respect to WTO issues, in order to represent and emphasise Guyana’s views and interests.

Asked if his political outlook, which does not necessarily coincide with that of the Government, would create functional difficulties, Dr. King, a former Cabinet Minister in the People’s National Congress (PNC) government, replied that he foresees no difficulty in relation to his job, because there is no difference between himself and the Government as regards the requirements of his posting. He also said that he sees his appointment as the most “technocratic” within the Government.

He emphasised that his decision to accept the appointment after being approached by President Bharrat Jagdeo, was influenced by a commitment to serve Guyana, to make a contribution to the development of all ethnic groups, and “to become an example to demonstrate that despite someone belongs to a particular group he/she can serve the interests of his/her group and at the same time serve Guyana.’’

“In fact, that is how it should be,” Dr. King added.

He said he would be engaged in discussions with Foreign Minister Rudy Insanally, other members of the Cabinet and members of the business and manufacturing sectors before departing for Brussels by the end of this month to take up his appointment.

Dr. King has a distinguished academic and professional background, graduating from the University of London with a Bachelor’s Degree in Law and Science. He received his Doctorate in Philosophy from Oxford University.

As an economist, King held many important posts in various international organisations including the Food and Agricultural Organisation, the World Bank and the United Nations Development Programme. He held the economic development portfolio under Forbes Burnham, and not the Desmond Hoyte administration as was incorrectly stated in Thursday’s issue of the Guyana Chronicle.