Agriculture has key role in Govt’s diversification plan
-transforming energy grid to support sector
Hon. Dr. Ashni Singh, Senior Minister with responsibility for Finance within the Office of the President, says the Government is transforming Guyana into a highly diversified economy, and agriculture is one of the key areas of focus in meeting this goal.
During a recent interview with DPI, the Finance Minister said many investors have signalled their interest in doing business here and he is confident that some of these ventures would benefit farmers. He cited the establishment of hotels, which would need fresh meats and produce, supplied on a large scale.
“Here again you have this vast amount of economic activity that is multiplying itself over and over in the economy. So, it’s not just that you are building a hotel and a thousand people staying there, you are literally creating jobs for the Guyanese people and by doing this, they are going to be spending that money, the visitors themselves will be spending money in the economy.”
Dr. Singh said it is important to look at the wider, longer-term benefits from investments like hotels as they create employment across several sectors.
“Do not make the mistake to think the construction of a hotel only means job in tourism. These people have to eat, the food comes from the farmers and so the more international visitors we have in Guyana, the better our market vendors will do, the better our agricultural wholesalers will do, the better the transport sector will do, the people who load up the trucks to sell their fruits and vegetables. The more demand there is for foods in restaurants, the more these people do business.”
Further, the Minister said Government has found that the cost of energy is the single biggest hurdle to competitive agro-processing and the manufacturing sector. As such, it would continue to take steps to expand and transform the energy grid to provide cheap and reliable electricity.
Dr. Singh noted that prior to 2015, the then PPP/C Government had taken a robust approach to this matter and it had taken steps to start harnessing hydroelectricity through the Amaila Falls. However, the Coalition Government blocked this project, stymieing development.
“We intent to move swiftly to bring down the cost of energy and so you would have been hearing about the gas-to-shore project which is being aggressively pursued. Once the gas-to-shore project happens, you are going to see first of all, our capacity to generate electricity more affordably significantly ramped up; we will be investing heavily in electricity generation as well to ensure that current and future demand of the country will be met through an affordable source.”
Once this is achieved, the Finance Minister said, the agro-processing sector would take off as it would become more affordable, profitable and competitive internationally.