One of the most important questions facing Guyana today is –How will you spend the massive oil wealth to come? In the eyes of former Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Kamla Persad-Bissessar, the answer to this question cannot be left to the politicians to answer, for nothing would be done properly.

For this official, the answer must come from all stakeholders: from the private sector to the public servants. She insisted that the collective ideas must then lead to the creation of a National Development Policy that will guide how the sector is to be managed.

The TT Opposition Leader said that this document is going to be extremely important to Guyana’s success with oil.

At a Dinner and Award Ceremony recently held by the Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association (GMSA), Persad-Bissessar said, “Guyana is now a global exploration hot spot. Oil production begins in 2020 and will ramp up to 750,000 barrels of oil per day by 2025. Guyanese, I want to remind you that Trinidad only does 65,000 barrels of oil per day. Therefore, you are living in a place that has tremendous potential…A massive windfall is coming your way.”

The politician added, “I would recommend therefore that there needs to be a National Development Policy that would ensure the improvement of the lives of all Guyanese. … Don’t wait until 2020 to do this. Now is the time. Have a policy and get input from all stakeholders.”

Further to this, Persad-Bissessar said that the sale of oil should not only be able to move Guyana’s GDP rankings upwards but it must also have a tangible effect on the daily lives of every citizen.

She said, “Leaders will have to make bold decisions to move industries forward while at all times ensuring there is a social safety net to cover the most vulnerable in your country. Guyana should not become a country of the haves and the have-nots. And that is why your National Development Policy is so important. It will provide the vision needed to manage the very volatile nature of the oil resources.”

The official added, “It is also imperative that the policy is complemented by a strong legislative agenda.  So in all, I am saying, have a blue print of where you want to be seven generations down the line and pave the way for an economy that is diversified.”

The former TT PM said that this is one mistake that her country made and one that she knows it regrets. Persad-Bissessar said that the oil sector turned out to be so lucrative that everyone gravitated to it. She said that the Trinidadian population became locked in on oil while the other sectors withered away.

“Everyone was serving the black gold but you know what happened? We ended up exporting everything about oil and gas and importing everything else…And now perhaps some say that too late is our cry. So I urge you, please invest in the diversification of your economy. It is imperative that you don’t become locked on this sector. Let your National Development Policy lead the way…” the TT Opposition Leader concluded.


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