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… but stresses the need for Guyana to address procurement system, high-electricity cost
U.S Ambassador to Guyana, Sarah-Ann Lynch, said as Guyana benefits from its booming Oil and Gas Industry deliberate steps must be taken to diversify its economy. However, the high-cost and unreliable supply of electricity is among issues, the US Ambassador said ought to be addressed to foster economic diversification.
“Guyana’s favorable trend of economic growth will very likely continue for years to come thanks to massive increases in international investment in the oil and gas sector, but we know that economic growth does not always result in economic diversification.
In order to enable economic diversification, we also know that lower-cost, more reliable electricity must be available for manufacturers. Land leases or permits must be available to agricultural investors, and reliable and high-quality infrastructure must be built including roads, bridges, and ports,” Ambassador Lynch said.
At the time, the US Ambassador was delivering the keynote address at the Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association’s (GMSA) Annual General Meeting (AGM) held at the Ramada Princess Hotel recently.
Ambassador Lynch also addressed the need for the country’s tender system to be modernized – a system the United Kingdom (UK) High Commissioner, Jane Miller, has not so long ago, said requires strengthening.
“…the tender process for selecting firms to support in these areas should really be modernized so Guyana receives the high-quality products it deserves which will enable its diversification,” Ambassador Lynch said.
However, she said the US is cognizant that both the Government and the Private Sector are taking steps to address the issues at hand, noting that the US will continue to do its part by encouraging small, medium and large scale investors to develop joint ventures with Guyanese firms, including in the area of agriculture.
Ambassador Lynch said undoubtedly, economic diversification is critical to achieving prosperity for all.
“Just as Guyana’s high tide enables bigger ships to come to port, economic diversification can be a high tide that lifts all sectors and all people of Guyana. In addition, diversification will serve as a guard rail for Guyana against the Dutch Disease,” Ambassador Lynch said while adding that the arrival of U.S. firms will not necessarily increase competition but rather provide for partnerships.
Zooming in on the Agricultural and Manufacturing Sectors, the US Ambassador said while one of Guyana’s greatest strengths is its natural environment and the potential for tourism, the country has not realized its full potential due to the high cost and unreliable supply of electricity.
“Guyana continues to have high electricity and other costs that make it an expensive place for tourists. For both expatriates and Guyanese, it is often cheaper and easier to vacation in Barbados or Miami than it is in the South Rupununi.
With regard to foodstuffs, there are often more products on the shelves here in Guyana from other Caribbean countries, rather than from Guyana,” she pointed out.
The Ambassador added: “We are convinced that reliable, lower-cost electricity is absolutely crucial to changing these realities, as is reliable infrastructure that is built to last.”
Give the constraints, she said the US is encouraging local businesses to partner with U.S. firms that would like to partner in the long-term development of Guyana.
It was pointed out that in the first three quarters of 2021 alone, trade between Guyana and the US totaled US$1.6B.
“And we’re just getting started. U.S. companies are ready to partner in a number of areas, not just in the oil and gas sector, but also infrastructure, agriculture, health care, services, tourism, etc,” Ambassador Lynch reiterated.
In applauding the GMSA for its renewed commitment “to contribute to an economically vibrant Guyana in which producers, manufacturers and service providers are the nation’s key drivers of growth,” Ambassador Lynch reminded those present that the world has set its eyes on the country.
“Let’s be honest. The floodgates have opened. Guyana is truly “open for business.” The companies are coming, and they’re coming often. More than 3,000 Guyanese benefit directly from good jobs in the oil and gas sector, but we know the numbers are much higher especially when you factor in the indirect employment numbers. What we know for sure is that Guyanese youth can now look to great jobs here in Guyana instead of overseas,” the US Ambassador said.
GMSA’s President, Rafeek Khan and Minister of Natural Resources, Vickram Bharrat were among the officials present at the AGM.