Finance Minister outlines Government’s plans for Guyana realizing its full potential including diversification of its non-oil economy, investing in its people
–during meeting with British officials committed to partnering with Guyana
Senior Finance Minister Dr. Ashni Singh today outlined Government’s plans including to utilize its oil revenue to diversify its non-oil economy into a globally competitive one and to invest in citizens to create a suitably equipped and skilled workforce in line with the current and future demand for new sets of skills. The Finance Minister was at the time holding discussions with Development Director for the Caribbean, Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office and UK Director to the Caribbean Development Bank Malcolm Geere, and Economics Adviser, Team Leader, Inclusive Economic Growth, Caribbean, Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office Liz Brower at the Ministry of Finance during an introductory meeting. The British Officials were led by British High Commissioner to Guyana Her Excellency Jane Miller.
Besides its introductory purpose, the meeting served as an opportunity for the British team to discuss with the Minister how the United Kingdom could partner with Guyana to increase mobilization of development support as Government continues to forge a number of international partnerships to catapult its current development agenda.
“Notwithstanding the commencement of oil production in Guyana and this illusion that there is windfall revenue, we still feel strongly about utilizing as much development support as we can,” Dr. Singh explained to the UK officials as he reminded that Guyana values its longstanding relationship with the UK.
The Senior Finance Minister explained that Government plans to ensure that revenues earned from oil currently being extracted will be used to lay the foundation for the future as he listed agriculture, transport infrastructure (for improved access to productive land and to improve access to continuous markets), energy infrastructure (to provide reliable and affordable energy as this would be important especially to facilitate a competitive manufacturing sector), physical infrastructure such as roads, bridges schools and hospitals, investing in people ensuring they are adequately equipped with the skills to meet new demands.
Dr. Singh also noted that Government intends to fully capitalize on its Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) and will continue to manage Guyana’s tropical rainforest in a sustainable manner in order to be compensated by the world for its forest conservation and clean air contribution.
The Minister also touched briefly on Guyana’s Sovereign Wealth Fund which he reminded comprises part of the oil proceeds being put aside for future generations but added that along with this, Government wants to ensure the improved well-being of Guyanese such as allowing for them to have their own homes, are educated and have marketable skills and careers while the future generation will also be able to enjoy a modern, diversified economy where they can continue to thrive as well as be provided with modern health care once the country’s oil would have been exhausted in the future.
Guyana and the UK have been collaborating on a number of development projects with recently the UK Caribbean Infrastructure Fund providing US$66 Million toward the US$190Million Linden to Mabura road project. The two-lane highway between Linden and Mabura Hill forms part of the arterial link between Linden and the Lethem Highway and links Georgetown to the Brazilian border. Additionally, through the UK Export Finance (UKEF) the Government of Guyana is constructing a Pediatric and Maternal Hospital. The building and equipping of the state-of-the-art hospital will cost 149 Million pounds.
Meanwhile, Co-operation programmes/projects between Guyana and the UK also include the Diamond Diagnostic Centre, the Lethem hospital, the Leonora Cottage Hospital, the Mabaruma Hospital and the Paramakatoi Hospital.Through collaboration between the two countries as well, earlier this month Guyanese have been able to visit the UK visa-free. President Irfaan Ali had stressed as well during announcement of this waiver on visas, that the two Governments aim to further expand bilateral relations with the hope of furthering investments, including expansion of Guyana’s tourism market.