Guyana is on the cusp of a major economic transformation, to provide opportunities for the socio-economic advancement of our people.
(Ministry of Business/May28/2017 / Georgetown/Guyana) On Friday May 26th, 6 pm, Minister of Business Dominic Gaskin, delivered remarks in celebration of Guyana’s 51st Independence Anniversary as part of a Diaspora Direct Event at the High Commission of Guyana, London. Minister Gaskin while giving best wishes on behalf of the Government of Guyana spoke to the challenge organizing the Diaspora community and managing its expectations; the realities of governing and the advances of the Government on several fronts; commenting also on the Manchester Attack in Britain.
The Minister stated, “Guyana is on the cusp of a major economic transformation which is expected to provide opportunities for the socio-economic advancement of our people. It is what has to happen if we’re serious about the development of our country.”
He acknowledged that Guyanese who live in the United Kingdom have a lot to offer Guyana. “Our Government has developed a Diaspora Engagement Strategy aimed at ensuring that Guyanese outside of Guyana have an opportunity to contribute to the development of our country.”
Minister Gaskin said that, “The challenges we face are not unlike those faced by most countries in the world. There is poverty, there is inequality, and there is poor education and health care. This is what we inherited and this is what we are fixing.”
He said doing business in Guyana has been a major challenge. However, he added “The Ministry of Business has sought assistance from the World Bank and is currently working on an action plan to improve the ease of doing business in Guyana. Significant improvements are expected over the coming years.”
“In spite of many challenges, Guyana’s economy is still growing. Last year it grew by 3.3% which is impressive when compared to all our neighbouring economies: Venezuela – experiencing severe economic depression; Brazil – experiencing negative economic growth for a second year running; Trinidad – experiencing negative growth also; and Barbados – its economy grew by less than one percent last year,” Minister Gaskin emphasized.
He also noted that with the discovery of oil, “We are receiving a level of attention that we are not accustomed to and this is not necessarily a bad thing”. He reminded the audience that Guyana has for a long time been ignored by the international business community and not given much consideration as an investment destination, adding that “we have a chance to change this and to transform our country into one that is ready to do business with the rest of the world”
The Minister also stressed the dangers of over reliance on a single sector to drive Guyana’s economic growth. Pointing to the value-added sectors such as agro-processing, forestry products, pharmaceuticals, tourism, business process outsourcing and – infrastructure development, he identified these as areas that “needed to be kick-started if we are to diversify our foreign earnings and create sustainable economic growth and employment”.
Minister Gaskin stated, “Guyana has what it takes to produce food on a large scale; Guyana has what it takes to emerge as a top eco-tourism destination. Guyana has what it takes to provide various business services that meet global requirements. Guyana has raw materials that can be processed at home.”
On Guyana’s infrastructure plans the Minister disclosed that “our investments in infrastructure are also expected to increase national competitiveness. The road from Lethem to the Atlantic Coast will become a reality. Already a section from Linden to Mabura is being paved and a bridge over the Essequibo will connect that road to the final stretch to Lethem, providing an alternate route to the Atlantic for Brazilian businesses”.
“A new bridge will be built across the Demerara River, to take off the heavy traffic that can no longer be efficiently handled by the current bridge; new roads will link the East Bank Demerara to the East Coast of Demerara and link Parika to Linden via the East Bank of the Essequibo River. So there will be the opening up of new lands which will see development of new agricultural, industrial and residential areas”.
Additionally, Minister Gaskin stressed the importance of ensuring that the natural wealth that Guyanese who are alive today would have inherited is passed down to subsequent generations. “The conservation and preservation of our natural habitats – rainforests, wetlands, and savannahs is therefore an obligation that we take seriously and Guyana has maw several notable commitments in this regard. An additional two million hectares have been committed for conservation and Guyana has committed to the use of renewable energy sources for the generation of 100% of its electricity needs by the year 2025. We are currently exploring the use of some form of sovereign wealth fund to guarantee the wellbeing of future generations of Guyanese.”
He also told those present that despite daily reports of crime in Guyana, the rate of most forms of serious crimes were down when compared to previous years and that so far for 2017 the downward trajectory was continuing. He however cautioned that the level of crime was still an area that needed attention and assured the audience that it was receiving high attention.