Guyana says Venezuela territorial claims scaring away investors

Georgetown, Guyana — The Guyana Government says Venezuela’s claims on disputed territory is hurting the CARICOM nation’s economy.

President David Granger told reporters in New York, where he is attending the United Nations General Assembly, that the entire economy is being affected, but the brunt of the impact was being felt by the five regions of the Essequibo.

Venezuela has been laying claim to the vast mineral-rich area of jungle west of the Essequibo River, which accounts for about 40 per cent of Guyana’s territory, since the 19th century.

“The claims have had a very negative effect over the years. It became worse in 2013 when that country expelled a vessel from our waters, and became much worse in May this year,” Granger said after a meeting with president of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) Luis Alberto Moreno.

“The Venezuela claims have scared away investors and we made the president of the bank aware of the impact that the aggression has had on our economic development of that huge area.”

While Moreno declined to give details of the IDB’s position on the territorial dispute, he said the institution was very interested in a peaceful resolution to the matter.

Venezuela has also extended its maritime claims after a subsidiary of Exxon Mobil announced it had made a significant oil discovery about 193 kilometres off Guyana earlier this year.

Also discussed during the meeting was the IDB’s support for the development of renewable energy in Guyana.

‘The bank, as you know, has responsibility for the disbursal of Norway funds and we would like to work with the bank to ensure that Guyana satisfies the requirements of those funds and, at the same time, satisfies the requirements for renewable energy,” the president added.

Granger spoke to Moreno about the challenges facing his country’s rice, sugar, bauxite and gold industries over the last 12 months.

“So we have been pursuing a very important social agenda to ensure that we bring more people into the economy at the grass root level, through educational and poverty reduction programmes. At the same time, we need to keep our economy buoyant and the IDB is a very important partner in Guyana’s economic restructuring,” he said.

Meanwhile, Foreign Affairs Minister Carl Greenidge, who also attended the meeting with Moreno, said that the IDB has signalled its commitment to working with Guyana in other areas of development, including marine transport, infrastructure and the electricity sector.

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