One of the most challenging tasks governments of oil-producing States face is keeping at bay, the dreaded resource curse. Francesco Caselli of the London School of Economics describes this phenomenon as one that sees an abundance of natural resources leading to corruption and stagnation, or even economic contraction. But President, Irfaan Ali confidently noted yesterday that his government intends to implement a “progressive plan” that will ensure Guyana’s oil money not only results in prosperity for the citizenry but for the entire CARICOM region too.
During a two-hour virtual press conference that was held to mark his government’s one year in office, Ali categorically stated that the PPP/C’s plan for development will ensure that oil does not become the lifeblood of the economy, thereby leaving it exposed to the vagaries of international market fluctuations.
The President said, “Our economy will never be based on oil and gas.” Instead, the Head of State noted that the wealth to be accrued from the development of the oil resources will be used to fast-track other initiatives that would leave Guyana in a most competitive position.
Ali outlined that his government intends to use the oil money to develop other industries such as agriculture, manufacturing, and tourism. He said his government will use the oil money to build first-class educational and health services while adding that there will be a focus on strengthening the nation’s climate change efforts. Ali said he intends to build an economy that is buttressed by sectors and services that are second to none.
He further noted that his government’s “proactive, progressive plan” will also see the expansion of the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) which paved the way for Guyana to gain millions of dollars in carbon credit in the past from Norway.
He said in this regard, “We are already in the process of designing that expanded LCDS that would demonstrate to the world that in pursuit of the oil and gas sector, we will still be in a position to be a leader in the world on the environmental side; so that balance is intricately being developed in the strategic framework that will take our country forward.”
The President was also keen to note that he intends to ensure the benefits that redound from Guyana’s oil wealth not only reach the citizenry but CARICOM nationals too.
In this regard, he said, “…Whatever resources Guyana gets from this oil and gas sector, and all other sectors, I assure you, will resound not only to the benefit of Guyanese but all the people of CARICOM. We are one people in CARICOM. There is no distinction in my eyes, between our borders. There is no distinction in my eyes…And I would never try or attempt to make a distinction because that brings nothing or adds nothing to the equation…”
Rather than adding or creating the right environment for unity, it divides us “and that will never be my style,” expressed the Head of State.
On this matter he concluded, “So the future of Guyana is indeed bright, but that future will be shared with CARICOM.”