President reports on India visit...
Guyana offered US$25M credit line
By Nivedta Kowlessar
Guyana Chronicle
September 4, 2003

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INDIA is offering Guyana a US$25.2M concessional line of credit for the modernisation of three sugar plants, President Bharrat Jagdeo reported yesterday.

The credit will be extended through the Exim Bank of India and will be for factories surveyed by a team from Sugar Technology Mission of India.

India will consider a similar offer for the modernisation of the remaining plants in Guyana, President Jagdeo told a press conference at the Office of the President in Georgetown.

The offer is among what he described as "very concrete initiatives" coming out of an August 24 - 29 state visit to the southern Asian sub-continent with which Guyana has strong social, economic and cultural ties.

Mr. Jagdeo said the credit would "go a far way" in modernising the factories and making them "very, very competitive" and "much more profitable".

The Government is in the process of modernising the sugar industry to make it more internationally competitive, given the impending loss of preferential markets in Europe.

It recently awarded a contract to build a new factory at Skeldon and expand cultivation on that estate. This plant will be linked to a refinery and will be equipped for co-generation - the use of byproducts.

The Government also recently signed an agreement with the reputable Angostura firm of Trinidad and Tobago for the development of a private distillery, and President Jagdeo said there are indications that the modernisation plan would yield "a huge rate of return".

He said there has been no decision to close any of the country's sugar estates.

During the Head of State's visit, India also waived the balance of Rs.28.78M owed by Guyana from a Rs.100M line of credit extended in 1989.

India agreed to enhance the quota of Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) scholarships to Guyana from 25 to 35. Ten more will be offered through another programme, but the disciplines are yet to be worked out.

"We're very, very pleased about this because this will supplement our efforts to send more of our people abroad to study," the President told reporters.

There were also discussions on increasing the number of ITEC experts in Guyana, especially in the areas of information technology, agriculture research and medicine.

Mr. Jagdeo said many are expected to be recruited here "to fill shortages in key sectors and support national efforts to transform the economy and make the country much more diversified."

Guyana and India are looking to enhance cooperation, especially in economic and commercial areas, through agreements signed between the Indian Federation of Industry and Commerce and the Georgetown Chamber of Industry and Commerce.

President Jagdeo said a Joint Business Council would result in greater ties between the private sectors of the countries, noting, "this could expand into some great unique areas".

He said many companies are interested in setting up shop within the Free Trade Area of the Americas, which could be a reality by 2005.

Several other agreements, including for cultural and educational exchanges, were signed and the President said he was "very pleased" about the latter, which will allow both countries to share resources in many areas.

He referred to the possibility of replicating primary to secondary school level texts in Mathematics, Biology, Information Technology, Chemistry and Physics being produced in India. These could be accessed at very concessional rates or without payment for copyright.

"I think we can benefit considerably from the work that they have done in developing standard texts," Mr. Jagdeo said.

Guyana and India have agreed, as well, to work towards concluding double taxation and bilateral investment treaties, and this country will be reopening its diplomatic mission in New Delhi to further enhance their relations.

And India offered to render all possible assistance requested by Guyana to enhance the capabilities of its law enforcement agencies after expressing concern about heightened criminal activities here.