Our Regulatory Framework for Investments
Like other countries, Guyana has a number of laws, regulations and administrative processes that govern the investment regime (i.e., locating, operating, finance, and import and export of goods). Click here for a list of laws and regulations that concern the start-up and operation of a business in Guyana.This section provides an overview of Guyana’s regulatory framework, within the sequence of procedures an investor may consider when deciding to locate a business in Guyana. More detailed information and assistance can be obtained from GO-Invest, Ministry of Business, or other regulatory bodies.The Government has continued to take steps to improve the regulatory climate, with recent developments including reducing the number of necessary trade licenses, passing a Value-added Tax bill in 2005, the Investment Act of 2004, the Small Business Act of 2004, and a Competition and Fair Trading Bill (due to be passed by May 2006). Furthermore, as part of the recent NCS process, the Government is strengthening regulatory and administrative processes as well as improving the environment for public-private dialogue through the establishment of a National Competitiveness Council.
With few exceptions (e.g. small and medium scale mining), foreign and domestic investors receive equitable treatment and both have the right to establish, own and operate business enterprises, and to engage in all forms of economic activity.* Guyana offers investors a number of incentives, guaranteed by the law. GO-Invest, a semi-autonomous body under the direct purview of the Ministry of Business, is the primary contact for investors and is mandated to facilitate the investment process for them.
Investment Act 2004
The Investment Act of 2004 is the principal legislation governing investment in Guyana and is intended to play a reassuring role for investors by providing legal protection for investment, increasing the predictability, stability and transparency of the legal regime for investment, promoting the development of international best practices regarding investment, and streamlining the existing procedures for investment. Specifically, the Act provides assurances that:
There is no discrimination between foreign and domestic investors
Investors may invest in all fields of lawful economic activity
Investments may be made in existing enterprises—both joint ventures and wholly-owned—by domestic or foreign investors
Private investments are guaranteed by the Government
Expropriation can only take place as permitted under the laws of Guyana, promulgated on a non-discriminatory basis and providing for fair and prompt compensation
Proceeds and profits from investments may be freely repatriated out of country and business expenses in foreign currency are permitted. Limitations may be placed on enterprises that are under bankruptcy proceedings, have been declared insolvent, or when the investor has pending criminal proceedings
Investors can hire foreign personnel and have the right to repatriate their net earnings
Intellectual and property rights of investors are guaranteed under Guyanese law
In cases of disputes, mediation is the recommended form of conflict resolution. However, if settlement is not made amicably, the investor may seek international arbitration under the rules of the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID)
* – A few limitations do exist in the mining and finance sectors. In the former, investment in small and medium sized operations is restricted unless a joint partnership exists. In the latter, foreigners must receive approval to obtain loans greater than US$10,000.
Guyana offers investors a range of incentives for new investment. The majority of investment incentives are in the form of tax incentives (see Taxation section below). Firms interested in finding out which incentives they are entitled to should contact GO-Invest.
Bilateral Investment Treaties
Guyana has entered into Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements with the UK, Germany, the Peoples’ Republic of China, and Cuba.
Guyana offers foreign investors the flexibility and advantage (as the particular situation may warrant) to purchase or lease land. Foreigners are treated the same as domestic investors when attempting to acquire or lease property. The Status of Aliens Act legislates that foreigners be treated the same as Guyanese citizens in the ownership and disposition of all movable and immovable property.
There are four types of land in Guyana: state-owned, government owned, private transported or titled land, and industrial estates. The process for acquiring or leasing land depends on its classification. In most cases, state and government owned lands are leased rather than sold, through an application process that involves the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission (GLSC), GO-Invest and other regulatory bodies. Private transactions are generally carried out between lawyers for the buyer and seller.
There are two operating government-managed industrial estates in Guyana—Eccles and Coldingen—and others in development, including estates in Lethem and Belvedere that have various levels of infrastructure and services available for investors (see Box 3.4 for details on the specific estates).
Businesses at these locations enjoy favorable terms and conditions, which are available to both local and foreign investors. This includes 99-year lease agreements with the following terms:
Annual Rent of G$1.00/US$.005/sq. foot
Concessions on building materials, vehicles, plant and machinery
The investor is responsible for reimbursing 25 percent of the costs of basic infrastructure, currently ranging between G$153/US$0.76 to G$210/US$1.06 per sq. foot
The allocation of the plots at the industrial estates is based on a variety of criteria, including macroeconomic impact (e.g. export potential, employment generation, import substitution, utilization of local resources), project parameters (e.g. nature and scope of project, level of investment, types of products/services), and the applicant’s profile. Applications are filed with MinTIC, with GO-Invest facilitating on behalf of investors. Further sites may be developed on a demand-driven basis.
In addition to the industrial estates, the Government is developing 600,000 acres (250,000 hectares) of Intermediate Savannahs, with very good agricultural potential. It is offering investors access to land under very favorable terms for undertaking specific agricultural related projects. Interested investors should contact GO-Invest to obtain pertinent information.