Guyana to submit infrastructure proposal to IsDB Board in September – Finance Minister
– tells Annual Meeting that Bank will remain highly-valued developmental partner
With the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government pursuing a comprehensive highway development plan, Guyana is seeking finance from the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) for a massive transport infrastructure project and will be submitting its proposal in September.
This was revealed by Senior Minister with Responsibility for Finance Dr Ashni Singh, who is currently in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, for the IsDB Annual Meetings 2022, which is being held from June 1 to 4 under the theme: “Beyond Recovery: Resilience and Sustainability.”
During his remarks at the Annual Meetings on Friday, Minister Singh expressed Guyana’s appreciation to the bank for its support over the years and noted that Government looks forwards to this support being further ramped up as they work on advancing the development agenda for the country in a very exciting but also challenging era.
“The Islamic Development Bank will continue to be a highly valued development partner. We are already at an advanced stage of developing new projects for our portfolio with the Bank, including one in transport infrastructure that is due to go to the Executive Board in September. Others, mostly in advancing the infrastructure upgrade and build-out agenda, will follow later,” Singh stated.
Meanwhile, on the sidelines of the 2022 Annual Group Meetings, Dr Singh held bilateral discussions with the IsDB Chairman, Dr Muhammad Sulaiman Al Jasser.
The engagement allowed for discussions with the Bank’s President on various opportunities for further collaboration with the Bank as the Government moves further ahead with its development agenda for Guyana.
Nevertheless, the Minister said during his formal address that the meetings are being held at a time when the global economy is reeling from multiple intertwined shocks including the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russia/Ukraine crisis that has further disrupted production and trade in key commodities, resulting in additional inflationary pressure.
He pointed out that the result of those shocks is a significant reduction of the global economic growth which is now projected to slow from 6.1 per cent in 2021 to 3.6 per cent in 2022 and 2023, and further decline beyond that. Additionally, inflation for 2022 is now projected at 5.7 per cent in advanced economies and 8.7 per cent in emerging market and developing economies.
According to Singh, these combined realities make the work of the IsDB even more important to countries in the months and years ahead. He added too that the meeting’s theme this year aptly captures the essence of the mission that lies ahead.
Turning his attention to Guyana, Dr Singh outlined that his Government has taken a number of actions to limit the effects of COVID-19 on people’s lives and on the economy, as well as to contain the passthrough of imported price pressure on the most vulnerable.
“We structured these measures as far as possible to ensure they help stimulate productive activity in key areas such as agriculture. As a result, despite the unhelpful external conditions, we project real growth of over 7 per cent in our non-oil economy in 2022.”
“At the same time, in order to sustain strong non-oil growth into the medium and longer-term, we are putting in place the prerequisites for diversifying the productive sector, improving competitiveness, and increasing resilience,” he noted.
To this end, the Minister pointed out that particular areas of focus include investing in: adequate, reliable, affordable, and cleaner electricity which is essential for a competitive manufacturing sector; expanded and upgraded transport infrastructure, including to increase the economic space in which the country operates, and to improve internal access; ramped up food production by bringing more acreage under cultivation and by widening the range of crops being grown, and animals being reared, at scale – corn, soybean, and tropical varieties of wheat being of special focus in the near term; and greater climate resilience, so that Guyana can be better able to withstand the consequences of climate change, in such areas as coastal defences, flood control, and water management.
On the climate front, Dr Singh informed the high-level gathering that despite being a new oil producer, Guyana places the highest level of importance to its climate credentials. This is especially since the country is extremely susceptible to rising sea levels and flooding as a low-lying coastal state.
At the same time, he explained that Guyana, with its vast forests and low deforestation rate, is making an outsized contribution to the global fight against climate change. He referred to the country’s revised Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS 2030) which articulates these two intersecting realities. It also outlines a plan to ensure that the role of the standing forests in the global effort to flight climate change is recognised and remunerated, in order to enable the country to make the required investments to achieve accelerated economic growth along a low carbon climate-friendly trajectory.
The Finance Minister is accompanied by Guyana’s Ambassador to Qatar, Safraaz Shadood, at the Annual Meetings in Egypt.
After his assumption of office on August 2, 2020, President Dr Irfaan Ali met with the then IsDB President and had discussions on financing for solar energy, agriculture, infrastructure, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and measures in the fight against COVID-19.
Then, in June last year, following the unprecedented flooding of several areas in Guyana, the IsDB committed to mobilising support for the country in terms of critical intervention measures.
Meanwhile, last August, Government applied for financial support from the IsDB for the Hinterland Electrification Programme. In October 2021, the Bank approved funding for the construction and rehabilitation of two small hydropower plants in Lethem, Region Nine (Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo) with some of the money going towards consultancy services.