E-networks, Newsroom & Demerara Bank; Ethnic Banking Privilege In Guyana

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There have been several exchanges on social media about who is involved in business and who owns the economic resources of Guyana. There is a prevailing thought that AfroGuyanese prefer the public service and working for others, while East Indians prefer farming and entrepreneurship.

There is some historical significance that underpins this stereotype, as post enslavement, many AfroGuyanese parents struggled to educate their children who became the healthcare, education and public service backbone of the country. But the notion that there has not always been a thriving entrepreneurial class among AfroGuyanese, is simply wrong. In fact, that entrepreneurial spirit among AfroGuyanese survives even today.

A 2014 Vanderbilt University survey of Guyana identified that both East Indian and AfroGuyanese start and run businesses at roughly the same rate. The difference is that East Indian businesses are larger, more established and generate more revenue; all factors which point to access to capital and more business support available for East Indian entrepreneurs.

A good example is the XLINK company, a holding company under which Newsroom and E-networks are registered, identifies Yesu Persaud, Chairman of DDL and Demerara Bank on its board of Directors. It is also well known that Vishok Persaud is identified as the head of both of those ventures. Vishok Persaud is brother of Vindhya Persaud a high ranking member of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP), both children of former PPPC Agriculture Minister, Reepu Daman Persaud.

So essentially Newsroom, which seems to have limitless funds and resources has been used to abuse the government of Guyana and to return the corrupt PPP to power is an institution supported (and funded) by the influence of DDL & Demerara Bank Chairman, Yesu Persaud, but it gets better.

In July 2019, XLINK (E-Networks & Newsroom) was granted a nearly $2billion ($10M USD) unsecured (no assets needed to back this loan) loan from Demerara bank. This loan was to be used for plant, machinery cable, factory equipment, fixtures, fitting, motor vehicles, furniture (basically everything) to expand e-networks (& newsroom) throughout the country, essentially gearing up to become the premier voice, data and media provider in the country. By all accounts, this is an outrageous “hook up” loan, which essentially used funds deposited by at least 50% AfroGuyanese to fund the expansion of E-networks and Newsroom.

We challenge Yesu Persaud to tell us of any AfroGuyanese business person in Guyana who has been able to leverage even a $1M USD unsecured loan from Demerara Bank. We challenge Yesu Persaud to release the statistics on number of business loans granted to AfroGuyanese by Demerara Bank.

This hidden incestuous relationship is a direct reflection of the economic benefits granted to East Indian business owners by East Indian Banking executives in Guyana. So while AfroGuyanese and East Indians start businesses at the same rate, AfroGuyanese are inundated with requests for assets to secure loans to grow their businesses, while many East Indians are granted unsecured loans to build and expand their businesses. We challenge all the local banks in Guyana to release their business loan statistics by race.

The people of Guyana demand an end to this dangerous nepotism which serves to create economic domination of East Indians over AfroGuyanese. AfroGuyanese participate in the banking sector at a higher rate than East Indians, we therefore expect that they be allowed the same benefits and loan participation extended to East Indian business cronies. Black Lives Must Matter in the banking industry in Guyana.

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