“Great blessing” of oil taking Guyana into new wave of development
…”Guyanese economy in transition” – President Ali in UK
President Dr Irfaan Ali told scores of UK investors and business leaders about the investment opportunities in the Caribbean, given its tremendous market access.
He made this assertion as he addressed the Caribbean Council’s House of Lords Annual Reception Wednesday evening in London.
He said that as a tourism hub and through its strategic location, the Caribbean has access to more than 220 million people directly or through trade agreements.
“We have complete trade agreements with Venezuela, Colombia, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, and of course, we are part of the economic partnership agreement,” the Head of State is quoted by the Press and Publicity Unit within the Office of the President as saying.
To illustrate this, he pointed to the Region’s food import bill and the market value of several items therein, including palm oil worth US$142 million; cocoa worth US$48.5 million; spices worth US$10.6 million and beef and beef products worth US$40 million.
The Region’s food import bill, he added, will grow to at least US$10 billion in the immediate future.
The President said that the Region had the capacity to produce what it would consume and it had “an investment framework that allows great competitiveness” which would benefit the business community in the UK and the rest of Europe.
Dr Ali told the group that the Caribbean was already looking to be more self-sufficient and to produce more. He informed them about the 25 per cent reduction in the food importation bill that would be achieved by 2025. He also proudly stated that Guyana has a lead role and a lead responsibility in achieving that target and would host the inaugural Agri-Investment Forum and Expo this year from May 19-24.
President Ali reiterated that the development and prosperity of Guyana must be the prosperity of the Region – a region which he said is often overlooked.
On this note, he called for a new perspective and renewed interest in the Region given the present global environment.
“What is needed now is a new development of the relationship and new perspective – a renewed interest in the Caribbean because there is tremendous opportunity and given what is taking place globally, the Caribbean is presenting itself as an interesting solution for investors and investments,” the President said in a release from the Office of the President.
Guyana’s leading role
President Ali told the gathering that despite Guyana’s growing oil and gas sector, its economy would be multifaceted.
“We see ourselves as an economy in transition that is allowed this great blessing of oil as a mode of taking us into the transition we so want,” the Head of State said.
The Government, he added, will use the resources to invest in other sectors, including infrastructure expansion; Information and Communications Technology (ICT); tourism; health and education under a “new wave of development”.
Within this context, he said the projection is that Guyana’s oil and gas sector will have a “long future” which will provide the opportunity to advance the other sectors.
The President also outlined Guyana’s leading role in the environment, climate change mitigation, and vast natural resources including freshwater reserves.
“So when we’re going to discuss climate change in the future, Guyana will be on the table; when we discuss oil and gas, Guyana will be on the table; when we discuss freshwater, Guyana will be on the table; when we discuss food sustainability and agriculture, Guyana will be on the table, because we are working towards becoming the breadbasket of the Caribbean. When we talk about energy sustainability, Guyana will be on the table and when we talk about issues of regional integration. Guyana will be on the table,” Ali declared.
He also spoke about the Government’s plan to reduce the cost of energy by 50 per cent by 2025. “When we do that, we now become competitive with any other producer in the Region”.
Despite Guyana’s huge multifaceted potential, President Ali noted that the most important asset the country possessed was its people. He spoke about his Government’s ‘One Guyana’ initiative and the mission to include all Guyanese in the country’s development.
The President invited those gathered to travel to Guyana and examine the opportunities for themselves.
“There is a lot of possibility and a lot of resources available through the UK Government. Once you have a big idea, I can tell you, there is an opportunity.”