For years, stakeholders of Guyana’s business sector have complained about the financial strain placed on running successful enterprises in the face of huge stumbling blocks like high electricity costs. But come 2023, this is all expected to change as the planned gas to shore pipeline at a proposed location along with the West Bank of Demerara, will allow the business community to expand manufacturing opportunities, have a low-cost source of energy, access to labour from surrounding housing developments and a ready road network. All of this will be managed by the Wales Development Authority. Making this disclosure was Senior Finance Minister, Dr. Ashni Singh during his presentation of the 2021 budget.
The official told members of the House that the Wales Development Authority (WDA) will not only distinguish itself as the industrial centre of the Caribbean, it will serve the very immediate purpose of employment generation. When in operation, the Minister said that the WDA stands to employ well over 3,000 persons on a full-time basis in fields ranging from manual, technical, professional, administrative among others across the various enterprises to be located under the WDA. He said that this of course is not taking into consideration the myriad range of indirect employment that will be generated, which very easily will account for a figure well beyond that established for direct employment.
Further to this, Dr. Singh said that the Government will commence work on the Wales Development Authority (WDA) by drafting and passing the requisite legislation to create the authority during 2021. Dr. Singh said, “As we speak, consulting services are being procured to conduct the geotechnical, geophysical, environmental impact, and Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) studies to determine the location where the gas line would land as well as the sites for the drying facilities, co-generation plant, and essential petrochemical industries.” The Minister said that the construction of the co-generation plant and laying of the pipeline will begin next year and finish during 2023. He noted too that when the power plant comes on stream, the electricity cost will be a fraction of the current rate paid by consumers. He said too that the reduction in electricity cost is expected to attract large industrial, agro-processing, and manufacturing firms.
To make the WDA more attractive as an industrial zone, the Finance Minister said that special incentives will also be provided to motivate investors to set up operations in Wales. This strategic policy initiative by this Government, he said, particularly as it relates to providing tangible support to these non-oil sectors, will ultimately provide the enabling environment for the country’s diversification efforts to take root and become sustainable. In this regard, he posited that a sustainable and competitive agriculture and manufacturing sector that will be supported through the WDA, will provide the groundwork for overall sustainable robust economic performance.