Last Updated on Sunday, 11 March 2018, 9:35 by Denis Chabrol
Guyana is making available large swathes of former sugar estate lands for constructing upscale houses and business complexes for the burgeoning oil and gas sector, but a top government official cautions that the lands cannot be held indefinitely for speculation.
“These developments will come with a time-frame so you can’t take an acre or ten acres and say you will build a high-rise or a condominium and take ten years to build it. We’ll specify the time frame for you to start building,” Head of the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited’s (NICIL) Special Purpose Unit (SPU), Colvin Heath-London said.
Addressing a recent outreach exercise by the People’s National Congress Reform in New York, he said the Guyana Sugar Corporation (Guysuco) has lands available at Wales, Ogle, Eccles, Diamond and Palmyra for real estate development to international standards for the oil and gas sector.
Stressing that the lands are “not available for speculation”, he said they would be allocated through a “proper process” based on strong justifications in a “proper” business plan.
The SPU official urged overseas-based Guyanese to apply for former sugar estate lands to construct high-quality houses, restaurants and entertainment spots for more than 200,000 expatriates who are expected to come to work in Guyana’s petroleum sector. “It means that we have to raise our standards in terms of the real estate market,” Heath-London said.
“We have to find places for them to live, we have to feed them and entertain them and this is where you in the Diaspora and others further afield come to play. It means that we have to build accommodation to international standards,” he said. Features of such property development, he said, would have to include washing machines, dish-washing machines, alarms, gated communities, proper restaurants for dining and fine dining, night clubs and other forms of entertainment
Heath-London said the country was poised to create a number one Guyanese brand to cater not only for core oil and gas operations but also for an estimated 40 downstream industries. Through United States (US) oil giant, ExxonMobil, Guyana is expected to begin commercial oil production in 2020 at current estimates of 500,000 barrels per day.
The Guyana Sugar Corporation has already closed Wales, Enmore-East Demerara, Rose Hall and Skeldon Estates. The SPU has since decided to reopen Skeldon, Rose Hall and Enmore estates to keep them as going concerns to attract investors and at the same time produce molasses for the privately-owned Demerara Distillers Limited.