Pres Ali charges Caribbean financial sector to “step up” game to aid regional development

– says Guyana remains anchored within Caribbean despite ‘economic powerhouse’ status

President Dr Irfaan Ali has signalled an open invitation for Caribbean financial institutions to visit Guyana and explore the potential opportunities while highlighting concerns that more responsibility was needed to fill the financial gaps and needs within the Region.
The President delivered a presentation on Thursday at the Jamaica Stock Exchange Regional Investments and Capital Markets Conference 2023, where he expressed that development was not fixated on oil and gas.
The Guyanese Head of State pointed out that the country was set to become the energy and industrial capital of the Region, a regional food engine, ecotourism destination, major aquaculture producer, the centre of regional cricket, and potentially the financial epicentre.
Citing the importance of investments, Ali shared that the Caribbean financial sector needed to play a more important role in increasing capital. Gross financial needs in 2020 were in excess of US$10 billion in the Region.
Dr Ali told stakeholders, “The Caribbean financial sector needs to play a more instrumental role in mobilising capital to fill the Region’s financial gap…The challenge facing our financial system in the Caribbean is whether it can rise to the occasion of mobilising the capital requirement for financing regional development…We’re just as keen to partner with the regional institutions as we are into forging national partnerships. We’re seeking partnerships not only to develop our oil and gas sector but also to modernise our traditional sectors such as agriculture, gold, diamond, bauxite, manganese mining, and forestry.”
To this end, the President underscored that the Region could not develop a “silo mentality”, whereby the Region’s financial sector became segregated.
“Our financial sector also must have a regional focus. We do have a few banks which are regional players but more such banks, as well as Indigenous banks, are needed to take up greater space,” Dr Ali indicated.
According to him, the regional financial sector’s investments have to be more aligned with the key regional economic objectives. These include food and energy security, and transition, which require large sums of money. Without funding, the security of energy, food, and security will not be achieved. Along with this, he noted that the entities should also be able to respond to the needs of the Region – which could not be achieved without combined efforts.
Oil and gas have become a new frontier for Guyana – instrumental in it taking its place as the economic powerhouse of the Caribbean, but he shared that the country would remain anchored in realising the goal of regional integration.
“Guyana will become an economic powerhouse and will fulfil the grand but realisable ambition which for a long time has eluded the country. Guyana, however, sees itself as being beholden to regional development. We have envisioned our future development by taking into account our place and role in the Caribbean. We are firmly committed to the goal of regional integration. Thus, while we are pursuing win-win partnerships with other countries and regions in the world, we remain firmly anchored within the Caribbean family.”
Quantified reserves in Guyana have exceeded 11 billion barrels of oil since exploration commenced in 2015 and production subsequently in 2019.
In 2021, Guyana’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth was almost 20 per cent, and in 2022, it was more than 60 per cent – making it the fastest-growing economy in the world. However, growth was not confined to the oil sector, with the non-oil sector growing by 11.5 per cent.
“With more exploration taking place, new oil blocks to be auctioned and the ever-increasing production, Guyana is projected to become one of the richest countries per capita in the western hemisphere. Our oil finds have also made us a major player in the oil and gas industry in the Caribbean and a hotspot for new discoveries.
“The growth of the non-oil sector is important to us, because transformation is not only due to the discovery of oil alone, but also the use to which the oil revenues will be put and the trigger which the industry is already playing in boosting the economy,” Ali underscored.