Last Updated on Sunday, 9 August 2020, 15:00 by Denis Chabrol
Guyana’s President Dr. Irfaan Ali and the President of Suriname on Sunday announced the agreed to set up an action-oriented mechanism to push infrastructural development and private sector-led investments in both neighbouring South American countries.
Mr. Santokhi said he and his Guyanese counterpart are confident and committed that “we can do it jointly” and “guide it personally” President Ali said strict deadlines would be set by them. “We have both stressed the need t0 have time-bound objectives so we have laid the framework that would enable us to make use of the opportunity,” he said.
Suriname’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Ambassador Albert Ramdin said representatives from the two sides from next week would be hammering out an action plan on several strategic areas for the two Presidents to meet again in October, 2020 in Paramaribo, the Surinamese capital. Under the umbrella of a Strategic Dialogue and Cooperation Platform, the two leaders would be supported by Cabinet members on finance, health and natural resources with the possibility of adding the private sector to generate jobs and income as well as create sustainable development.
Guyana’s Foreign Affairs Minister. Hugh Todd said the two countries agreed to work closer because of the same development challenges as Small States and the same prospects for advancing themselves. He said the the two countries have agreed to focus “heavily on agriculture” as that is “the bedrock of our economies”, value-added agro-processing and joint private sector collaboration. “We have to get our private sector involved because they would provide that stimulus. At our level, we would be giving policy and facilitating and that will provide the platform for the private sector to take the initiative,” Mr. Todd said.
After a breakfast meeting that included representatives of Guyana’s private sector and the British, American and Canadian Ambassadors to both Guyana and Suriname, Dr. Ali and Mr. Santokhi held bilateral talks at State House, the official residence of Guyana’s President.
President Santokhi said his country and Guyana were determined to signal to the Caribbean and the international community that he and his Guyanese colleague would work tirelessly for their nationals. “We’ll do that by inclusion of everyone with our countries and we will bring development and we’ll bring prosperity without excluding someone or some body in our strategy,” he said.
Noting that the two countries face similar challenges, President Ali said the agenda would include “deadlines” along with the involvement of the private sector. The areas of cooperation, the Guyanese President, said would define the way the two countries approach international partners, international financial institutions, the raising of capital, the management of the natural resources sector, joint engagement of local content policy, the sharing of information on issues of security, the use of technology, joint radar surveillance of our borders, mining, quarrying and Information Communications Technology. Other issues include anti-piracy, cybersecurity, oil and gas training are also on the agenda.
Over the years, the Presidents of Guyana and Suriname have held talks but there has been no evidence of benefit to peoples of both nations. The lone visible exception appears to be the Guyana-Suriname Ferry vessel which shuttles people and vehicles across the bordering Corentyne River.
In recent months, both countries have shut down their borders due to the COVID-19 pandemic.