Suriname welcomes a new era. After decades of financial crisis, civil strife and corrupt govern- ments, the country is taking an en- couraging direction. It all started over a year ago, when president Chan Santokhi took office and immediately began implementing mea- sures to stabilize fiscal and monetary systems. Their IMF-approved recovery plan has brought domestic financial prices under control and a surplus to fi- nance a social security net for low-income house- holds. “We needed to take those first hard steps. As leader of the country I believe we have now closed that period and are heading towards more relief in our economy”, assures president Santokhi.
Inheriting a USD $4 billion debt, they hired financial advisory firm Lazard Frères to draft a Debt Restructuring Plan and guide them through the IMF negotiations. They reached staff level agreement and await board level approval, and they are also negotiating additional financial sup- port with the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank. In the meantime, as pres- ident Santokhi states, “we will continue to put our finances under control and take measures that will further stabilize our economy”.
Boosting Foreign Direct Investment
In order to build trust and attract foreign inves- tors, Suriname’s government is implementing a comprehensive agenda. First, they established a specialized FDI Unit within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as well as a new investment policy that provides incentives to different types of investors and sectors.
They are also fighting bureaucracy by eliminating all previous barriers to doing business. To facilitate a close cooperation be- tween countries and their private sectors they will remove visa requirements between the European Union and Suriname, and work on several IPA agreements. As president Santokhi assures, “After COVID we need another ap- proach to business. Since there are now more requirements for traveling, it is very important to remove those obstacles in the short-term.”
Additionally, given their strategic location, Santokhi’s government is promoting Suri- name as the region’s next air traffic and cargo shipment transportation hub. They are inviting investors to set up offshore businesses and inter- national airstrips in the country, they signed an agreement with American Airlines to have five weekly flights, and they plan to develop strate- gic infrastructure like a new international airport in the Nickerie district and bridges connecting them to both Guyanas and Brazil.
Furthermore, since the 2019-2020 discovery of major offshore oil reserves, the government has placed high hopes in the development of its oil and gas industries. Initial drilling has shown excellent oil properties and the potential to reach high levels of productivity of 11,000 bpd. In June 2021, block operators Total Energies and Apache Corp were awarded a contract for preliminary front-end engineering design, and the first pro- duction is scheduled to start as early as 2025.