Finance Minister outlines Guyana’s development trajectory with UK envoy
Finance Minister Dr. Ashni Singh on Thursday met and held discussions on Guyana’s current development trajectory with Small Island Development States’ (SIDS) Envoy Rebecca Fabrizi at the Ministry of Finance.
The meeting was facilitated by British High Commissioner to Guyana, Her Excellency, Jane Miller.
During the meeting, Dr Singh outlined Government’s policies and programmes while emphasising the various sectoral areas to which the Government is committed to continuously developing and expanding for the benefit of all Guyanese.
Both officials reaffirmed Guyana’s and the UK’s commitment to continued collaboration and improved relations in a number of areas. Also accompanying the British officials was the UK’s Country Director for Trade and Investment at the British High Commission in Georgetown, Sherwyn Naughton.
The Minister, during the discussion, reminded that Small Island Developing States (SIDS) such as Guyana should be provided with access to concessional financing given their vulnerabilities and he continued to advocate for a universally-accepted multi-dimensional index in order to form a basis on which access to concessional financing is allowed. He called on the UK to continue its advocacy for the adoption of a multi-dimensional index.
Minister Singh posited that as a result of the country’s ramped-up oil production and with Guyana being one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, Government, in its quest to prudently manage the country’s resources, is striving to keep a balance between investing in some major areas such as energy and infrastructure which will benefit Guyanese in the long term, while the administration is simultaneously investing in the social sector to improve the lives of citizens daily.
Dr. Singh alluded to Guyana’s sale of carbon credits, and while referencing the recently-presented $781.9 Billion National Budget, noted that notwithstanding the size of the Budget, it is still modest with a few large projects included, such as the hydropower project and the New Demerara River Bridge.
He also referenced some of the other provisions, including those to assist the agriculture sector as he linked the need for an improved electricity supply in the country to Guyana working towards moving from being a primary producer of commodities to being a secondary producer, as well as cheaper electricity costs reducing the cost of doing business in the country and catalyzing the manufacturing sector. Dr. Singh also posited that Government’s focus on infrastructure is to address the longstanding infrastructure gaps over the years.
It is with these in mind, as well as more large projects in the pipeline, that the Minister alluded to concessional financing by Guyana’s development partners, some of which continue to provide this aid and partner with the Government to accelerate programmes and projects. Guyana recently collaborated with the UK Caribbean Infrastructure Fund with the latter providing US$66 million toward the US$ 190 million 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 modern Pediatric and Maternal Hospital. The building and equipping of the state-of-the-art hospital costs $149 million pounds.
Other cooperation programmes/projects between Guyana and the UK include the Diamond Diagnostic Centre, the Lethem hospital, the Leonora Cottage Hospital, the Mabaruma Hospital and the Paramakatoi Hospital. As of November 9 last, through collaboration between the two countries, Guyanese are now able to visit the UK visa-free.
President Irfaan Ali had stressed as well during the 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.