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Guyana to assist St Lucia’s housing deficit, regional connectivity, food distribution hub

GUYANA / ST LUCIA (DPI) – President, Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali has promoted the competence and capacity of Guyana’s housing drive in St Lucia and has signalled his country’s readiness to help the housing deficit there. The Guyanese leader was at the time addressing the parliament of Saint Lucia on Wednesday, February 21, 2024, as the country observed its 45th year as an independent nation.

With regional leaders looking inwardly for their supply of food and other necessities in the various sectors, president Ali noted that Guyana’s housing drive is a testament to the capacity that has been built in the past three years.

Should Guyana and Saint Lucia formulate an agreement to upgrade and extend the housing market in Saint Lucia, it would not be an uncommon trade relation, as over US $140 million has been traded between the two nations in the last decade.

“In the last ten years, if you look at our trade numbers, Guyana would have exported commodities to the tune of US $71 million to Saint Lucia. Interestingly, Saint Lucia would have exported to Guyana, products at a cost of US $79 million,” he stated.

Although Saint Lucia’s exports to Guyana would have exceeded Guyana’s to Saint Lucia, president Ali is confident that his country can earn more from St Lucia in a more contracted period than 10 years, by catering to the country’s housing market.

“If you look at your existing housing market, and let us say conservatively that you have a deficit in your housing market of 2,500 in the next three to five years, and you use a conservative figure of US$30,000 for a low-income home…That is what we are building in Guyana. You are looking at an export potential of US $75 million in the immediate and medium-term from Guyana to Saint Lucia,” president Ali affirmed, that the time is right to create the enabling environment that would allow this opportunity to become a reality.

Even as Guyana looks to expand housing solutions beyond its borders, there is an ambitious and aggressive housing drive locally, to distribute 50,000 house lots in five years. The government of Guyana is on track to fulfilling that commitment, as more than 30,000 families have been allocated house lots to date.

The ministry of housing and water is constructing houses for low-income families, as well as those for young professionals. Together with subsidies for steel and cement and low-interest rates for mortgages, the housing sector has catapulted tremendously.

Guyana and St Lucia can build integrated model to achieve regional integration

Meanwhile, president Ali underscored that systemic integration between Guyana and Saint Lucia requires the integration of their educational and healthcare systems and technological platforms to achieve regional integration.

“Systemic integration requires our education and healthcare systems and technological platform to be integrated…Connectivity is not just the movement of people, goods, and services. Connectivity is about the movement of ideas, policies, and the integration of systems. Connectivity must be able to address all of this if we are to build a seamless system,” the Guyanese leader said.

The two countries can work together in the field of security to build a robust system, president Ali stated, while noting that this would pave the way for the states to propel their relationship to new heights.

“This would allow us to demonstrate to the private sector that we are serious about creating opportunities for them. And to demonstrate to the private sector that we are ready to create an enabling and conducive environment, and to support their expansion by making it easier for them to do business,” president Ali emphasized, systemic disparity can be tackled by the integration of the region.

Food distribution hub

With Saint Lucia having a food import bill of about 2,345 metric tonnes per annum, the head of state explained that the local production systems could be created to eliminate those imports there. Investment in shade houses and hydroponics, he noted, would help the country in reducing its food import bill by almost 70 percent.

Guyana has adopted a model by creating innovative agro-business opportunities using technology, research, and the involvement of women and young people.

“What this does is that it allows the rethinking of agriculture and the opportunities that exist in agriculture. And in allowing this rethinking, you have new capital and technology that come in and a renewed interest. Agriculture is part of the food production system…” the head of state explained. “Both nations need to work out the mechanism through which the bureaucracy and barriers can be removed…And through which there is a commitment and political and bureaucratic will,” president Ali added. The regional food-hub can be built in such a way that it connects Saint Lucia, not only for their own needs but also for Saint Lucia to become a distribution hub.



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