Suriname's economy offers many attractions for foreign investors. The Government has been active in promoting investment opportunities as a crucial component of a broad strategy of sustainable economic development. In addition to the traditional mining sectors that have been the targets of most foreign direct investments flows till date, the Government is also targeting areas like agriculture, infrastructure, tourism and technology to gain share in Suriname's revenue base.
The business climate in Suriname can be described as professional and formal. Workdays begin and end early in Suriname. General business hours are 7.30-8.00 a.m. – 4.30 p.m. weekdays. Government offices are open from 7.00 a.m. till 15.00 p.m. Opening hours of banks are generally Monday through Friday from 8.00 a.m. - 2.00 p.m.
Professional services to support business activities are offered by a wide variety of renowned international and local companies. Aside from locally registered professional services companies, Suriname also hosts companies from abroad. Professional services located in Suriname include:
- Audit, tax and legal services
- Financial services
- Insurance services
- Consulting, advisory and research services
Some of the audit and tax firms in Suriname correspond with international audit firms, such as Deloitte and Price Waterhouse Coopers. Others are locally present such as KPMG and BDO. Besides the international audit firms there are also several Surinamese audit firms.
Money and Banking
The national monetary unit is the Surinamese dollar, which is divided in cents. However US Dollars (US$) and Euros (€) are widely accepted. The Central Bank regulates and supervises Suriname's financial system. In addition to the Central Bank, several commercial banks, and one development bank offer a wide range of financial services. All the banks are located in Paramaribo, some have branches in various districts. Companies and individuals can have foreign accounts and foreign currency deposits, while financial institutions are allowed to give foreign currency loans. The exchange rate is published by the Central bank daily and is applied throughout the banking system.
Foreign companies have access to foreign exchange. Permission is required from the Foreign Exchange Commission (Deviezencommissie) to transfer any funds associated with a business or investments out of Suriname. This Commission is responsible for the execution of the foreign exchange policy, administrative tasks and granting permits related to foreign exchange.
The Government stimulates foreign investments and therefore in 2008 changed its law to allow banking institutions to open accounts for non-resident, and conduct transactions on behalf of non-residents in all foreign currencies at an official exchange rate determined by the Central Bank. In addition, the new law allows repatriation of dividends, interest, income, capital and royalties without limitations or restriction. So permission from the Commission is just an administrative procedure, but nonetheless required.
No limits exist on the amount of funds flowing into or out of Surinamese accounts. However, whenever the incoming or outgoing amount exceeds US$5000 or €5000 a source of origin must be declared (Anti Money Laundering Act). Detailed information can be obtained at the Foreign Exchange Commission or the Central Bank
Several insurance companies are operating in Suriname. The sector is governed by the Bank Act of 1956, amended in 2005 and the Banking and Credit Institution Supervision Act of 1968. These companies are considered credit institutions and as such are subject to supervision from the Central Bank. They offer a wide range of services including all the common business related insurances. Almost all insurance companies are locally owned.
There are a number of different advisory companies in Suriname. Many of them are small companies or one-man businesses offering IT consulting, marketing, research, training, public and business consulting. Besides the local offering, various consulting services are also offered by international consulting companies.
The media is very active in Suriname. The several daily newspapers, especially De Ware Tijd is very popular among business people. Journalist and other professional member of the media have organized themselves in an association the Surinaamse Vereniging voor Journalisten (SVJ).
Telecommunication infrastructure and fixed-line services are state-owned, whereas mobile telecom has been deregulated. The telecom infrastructure is comparable to the rest of Latin-America, and fairly competitive. Mobile coverage exist virtually throughout Suriname. Internet rates are relatively high compared to the neighboring countries, but expected to decrease over time.