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Suriname Country Report

Country Risk Level

High

Overview

Executive Summary

Following a win for the Progressive Reform Party (Vooruitstrevende Hervormings Partij: VHP) in the 25 May general election, on 13 July 2020, the National Assembly elected VHP leader Chandrikapersad Santokhi as the new president of Suriname. The transition of power ceremony took place on 16 July and occurred peacefully. President Santokhi’s election promises rely heavily on income from the oil and gas and mining sectors. Consequently, the new administration is likely to maintain a favourable business environment and continue to promote foreign investment.IHS Markit expects the negative effects of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)-virus pandemic to push the economy into a recession. Oil and mineral exports account for around 90% of goods exports, leaving the country highly vulnerable to commodity price fluctuations over the next 12 months. We rate Suriname’s sovereign risk at 55 points, which is equivalent to B+ on the generic scale. This reflects our projection of a deteriorating fiscal and external sector imbalance that is likely to result in an increase in the government-debt-to-GDP ratio in the medium term. In April, a rating agency also downgraded the country's credit rating because of a sharp rise in government debt, declining financing flexibility, and external liquidity, which increase the risk of the government not being able to service its foreign-currency liabilities. The risk of contract cancellations for major mining companies will remain low in 2021. Gold accounts for 60% of goods exports. However, companies operating in the sector face operational risks associated with local communities, illegal miners, and government efforts to provide security around project sites. The mining sector has been affected by the spread of the COVID-19 virus, which has caused the temporary shutdown of mining projects. There is also a higher risk of labour strikes as workers demand increased health protection.

Operational Outlook

The operational environment is unlikely to improve substantially in 2020. The main risks relate to bureaucratic delays and corruption. In recent years several political leaders have been implicated in corruption scandals; President Dési Bouterse and his son Dino have been convicted separately for drug trafficking abroad. In November 2019, President Bouterse was sentenced by a Surinamese court to 20 years in prison. Splits in the union movement mean strikes and protests risks are likely to rise over the next 12 months, chiefly affecting the public sector, primarily transport, education, and healthcare. Additionally, protests risks are likely to increase once the COVID-19 crisis abates.

Terrorism

Low

Terrorism risks are likely to remain low in the next 12 months. Two Dutch-Surinamese were arrested in July 2017 accused of plotting an attack on the US embassy in Paramaribo and were eventually deported back to the Netherlands. No evidence has emerged of a wider threat. The Jungle Commando, a rebel group active in the 1980–90s, has disbanded and its former leader, Ronnie Brunswijk, has become an opposition politician. Drug-related violence is limited and unlikely to involve terrorist acts against civilians or the state within the one-year outlook.

Crime

Urban crime rates are likely to remain moderate, especially in the capital, Paramaribo. However, crime levels compare favourably with many other Caribbean and South American cities. There are reports of banditry and armed robbery in the interior and the security forces face resistance when trying to displace illegal miners. Drug trafficking is prevalent with evidence of involvement by state officials but is unlikely to affect visitors. In March 2015, Dino Bouterse, son of the president and former counter-terrorism official was convicted in the United States on drug trafficking charges.

War Risks

The likelihood of interstate war in Suriname is likely to remain moderate in the 12-month outlook despite unresolved border disputes with French Guiana and Guyana. The capacity of the Guyanese and Surinamese armed forces is minimal. Security issues with French Guiana are mainly limited to the presence of Surinamese illegal miners in the French territory. The risk of a return to civil war is low. Illegal miners in the interior of the country pose the greatest threat to the country’s security forces.

Social Stability

The risk of protests is increasing as a result of uncertainty surrounding the 25 May general elections. As of 5 June 2020, 95.5% of votes have been counted with results showing a win for the opposition Progressive Reform Party (Vooruitstrevende Hervormings Partij: VHP). Current President Desi Bouterse has demanded a recount. If this request is granted, or if official results differ significantly from preliminary results, IHS Markit expects the opposition to call for protests, increasing the likelihood of roadblocks lasting several days around the capital Paramaribo. The January 2020 corruption scandal involving the Central Bank of Suriname also increases the risk of protests.

Health Risk

Vaccines required to enter the country

Yellow fever: A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required for travelers arriving from countries with risk of yellow fever transmission. A single dose of YF vaccine is sufficient to confer sustained life-long immunity against the disease; it should be taken ten days in advance to be fully effective.

Vaccines recommended for all travelers

Routine vaccinations: Consult your doctor to ensure all routine vaccinations - such as for diphtheria, tetanus, polio, tuberculosis, influenza, measles, mumps, pertussis, rubella, varicella, etc. - are up to date (include booster shots if necessary).

Vaccines recommended for most travelers

Hepatitis A: The vaccine is given in two doses, six months apart, and is nearly 100 percent effective. The WHO recommends the vaccine be integrated into national routine immunization schedules for children aged one year or older.

Typhoid fever: The typhoid fever vaccine can be administered via injection (administered in one dose) or orally (four doses). The vaccine is only 50-80 percent effective, so travelers to areas with a risk of exposure to typhoid fever, a bacterial disease, should also take hygienic precautions (e.g. drink only bottled water, avoid undercooked foods, wash hands regularly, etc.). Children can be given the shot beginning at two years of age (six for the oral vaccine).

Yellow fever: A yellow fever vaccination certificate is generally recommended for travelers over nine months of age.

Vaccines recommended for some travelers

Hepatitis B: The WHO recommends that all infants receive their first dose of vaccine as soon as possible after birth, preferably within 24 hours. The birth dose should be followed by two or three doses to complete the primary series. Routine booster doses are not routinely recommended for any age group.

Rabies: The rabies vaccination is typically only recommended for travel to remote areas and if the traveler will be at high risk of exposure (e.g. undertaking activities that will bring them into contact with dogs, cats, bats, or other mammals). The vaccination is administered in three doses over a three-to-four week period. Post exposure prophylaxis is also available and should be administered as soon as possible following contact with an animal suspected of being infected (e.g. bites and scratches).

Malaria: There is currently no malaria vaccine. However, various antimalarial prophylactics are available by prescription and can reduce risk of infection by up to 90 percent. Different medications are prescribed depending on the risk level and the strains of the virus present in the destination. Antimalarial tablets need to be taken throughout the trip to be effective and may need to be taken for as long as four weeks following the trip.

Natural Risks

Travelers should note that the country's two rainy seasons occur from May to August and from November to February, during which the risk of flooding is high, particularly in the north and center of the country, including in the capital. Surinamese officials are poorly equipped to deal with flood-related emergencies and therefore nonessential travel to the interior of the country is not recommended during those periods. Heavy rains can also disrupt telecommunications.

Transportation

Transportation (road) infrastructure remains largely underdeveloped throughout the country and road accident rates are high. In the event of a car accident, drivers by law must remain with their cars (unmoved) until the police arrive. This can result in major traffic congestion.

For safety reasons, public transportation (e.g. minibuses) should be avoided, particularly outside the capital. In cities it is best to use licensed taxi companies.

Suriname's Blue Wing Airlines has been banned from operating in European Union airspace due to poor safety standards. Concerns regarding the safety standards of the airline INSEL Air, which is based out of Curacao and serves Paramaribo-Zanderij International Airport (PBM), have also been raised.

Practical Information

Climate

Suriname has a humid tropical climate. There are two rainy seasons: the short rainy season lasts from November until February and the long rainy season from April until August. It is generally hotter and more humid inland than along the coast. Temperatures are constant throughout the year.

Useful Numbers

Country Code: +597
Police: 112 or 47 11 11
Police, Fire Dept., Ambulance: 112

Electricity

Voltage: 127 V ~ 60 Hz

Outlets:

Risk Level
Critical High Medium Low Minimal