It will be funded by the Government of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana and the Caribbean Development Fund though Basic Needs Trust Fund (BNTF) – an Agency of the Ministry of Finance, with support from UNICEF.
Remarks by the Minister of Finance at sod turning ceremony for the University of Guyana’s Early Childhood Centre of Excellence
Season’s Greetings to you all! This holiday season is indeed a special one, as it marks the end of two decades, since the turn of the 21st century. I’m certain that many of us may be reflecting on how life has changed for us over the past twenty years. If you are a working person, perhaps you are thinking about the ways that your career has progressed through these years. If you are a parent, you must be amazed at how quickly your child has gone from being a small, curious toddler to a young adult during their university studies or work activities. And for all of us Guyanese, we are surely reflecting on the growth and evolution that our country has undergone since the year 2000. We as a nation have seen so much, learned so much, and overcome the various growing pains that come with inevitable change that we too must be in awe of our achievements despite the naysayers. As we approach 2020, let us be proud of how much we have been able to achieve, and at the same time, aspire for greater breakthroughs and milestones in the years to come even as the Coalition Government embarks on its Decade of Development that will seek to transform this nation at all levels.
Therefore, it gives me great pleasure to be here with you today to declare the beginning of a yet another milestone for our nation—the establishment of Guyana’s very first Early Childhood Centre of Excellence!
This Early Childhood Centre of Excellence funded jointly by the Government of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana and the Caribbean Development Bank, through Basic Needs Trust Fund Guyana, will stand as a model institution for service delivery and development of early childhood education.
While it is not the first such centre that has been established by the BNTF – 6 centres were established in the 7th and 8th project cycles – this Centre of Excellence which will be established in the 9th cycle will be at the helm; guiding the direction and standards of early childhood education nationwide. A Centre of Excellence is unique in that it not only contains a facility for our children to grow and thrive in a safe environment conducive to learning, but it will also function as a research facility, where early childhood education scholars can come together to conduct studies and further develop good practices. It will serve as a hub and resource centre for other early childhood education practitioners to gain knowledge and advice from experts in the field.
Once established, this Centre will become a flagship laboratory school under the University of West Indies Open Campus (UWI OC) Early Childhood Centres of Excellence Company, as formalized in a Memorandum of Understanding between UWI and the University of Guyana. The Company, also known as BLOOM, has established Centres of Excellence in Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago. These laboratory preschools employ holistic education methods while creating a nurturing and engaging atmosphere for the students enrolled there. With University of Guyana’s Centre now joining these prestigious ranks, Guyana will also be able to build upon its cultural power and realm of influence throughout the Caribbean.
According to the World Bank, far too few children worldwide, especially those from the poorest families, have the option to enroll in high quality early childhood programmes. And many experts have emphasised that investing in children’s development during the first eight years of their life is critical for their school, life success and productivity. Until the establishment of the Early Childhood Development Centres under BNTF, there was only one state-owned day care centre, and, apart from the services offered by the Mayor and Councillors of the City of Georgetown, services for infants up to the age of three remained largely in the private sector and in the hands of untrained individuals. It is critically important then, that we, as a nation, invest more in early childhood education, to ensure that all children of a certain age have access to these crucial services.
The Centre of Excellence will therefore prove a truly worthwhile investment, with 120 million dollars allocated for the construction of the centre. The building will span 7,624 square feet and contain enough classrooms to accommodate 120 infants and toddlers, along with an observation room, conference room, and research spaces. At least 20 adults will gain employment there and learn to become better early childhood practitioners themselves. Professional development opportunities abound in such a space, with the Centre producing capable individuals to contribute to Guyana’s skilled labour force.
As 2020 swiftly approaches, let one of our goals be to build an “Education Nation,” a country that emphasizes quality at each stage of the education process, from the services catering to the youngest of our population, all the way up to continuing education for adults. Learning should be an unceasing process throughout our lives, but how it starts in the early years of a child’s development is particularly crucial: it will dictate the kind of adults they become, and, in turn, determine the future of our great nation.
With that, I would like to once again commend this wonderful initiative and wish you all a joyful holiday season! Thank you.
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This agreement was made on December 11, 2019, between the Minister of Finance, representing the Government of the Cooperate Republic of Guyana and the Bank of Guyana.
Ministry of Finance and Bank of Guyana Sign Operational Agreement for the Operational Management of the Natural Resource Fund
As part of Government’s preparations towards becoming a petroleum producing country and in anticipation of first oil in 2020, work commenced in earnest in 2017 on the drafting and consultations regarding the development of a Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF) legislation for Guyana. Different countries who are fortunate enough to have such funds, determine the scope and objectives based on national development priorities and the Santiago Principles. The better managed of these funds have benefited from a core of competent professionals, effective and robust institutional mechanisms and transparent management and reporting mechanisms.
In Guyana’s case after several rounds of internal consultations, international expert consultations, examination of other country experiences and drafting support, particularly from the Commonwealth Secretariat an initial draft legislation was developed. In an effort to ensure awareness and secure public feedback on the content of a potential SWF, His Excellency requested the development of a Green Paper to be laid in Parliament. A Green Paper titled Managing Future Petroleum Revenues and Establishment of a Fiscal Rule and a Sovereign Wealth Fund was developed and published in August 2018. This supported wider stakeholder consultations with the private sector and civil society as well as international agencies and experts. Based on the feedback and comments received for our private sector groups and civil society engagements the Natural Resource Fund (NRF) Bill No. 14 of 2018 was tabled in Parliament on November 15, 2018 and assented to on January 23rd, 2019 – making the Cooperative Republic of Guyana one of the few countries in the world to have developed this type of legislation ahead of first oil!
Notable features of this landmark legislation – the Natural Resource Fund Act – include (i) a withdrawal rule that permits a flow of funds from the NRF into the national budget that is formula based; and, (ii) a design to achieve multiple objectives of – a) reducing the transfer of the volatility of oil prices and production into the economy, b) meeting the immediate and urgent development expenditure needs of our country and in turn benefits to our people, and c) intergenerational savings to ensure that the benefits of the extraction of this resource are shared across both current and future generations, recognising that oil is finite.
In order to ensure those savings are wisely and safely held and invested, the NRF Act of 2019 stipulates the mechanisms under which revenues will be deposited and how investments are to be conducted, including the eligible investments allowable. The Bank of Guyana has been mandated by the NRF Act to ensure that the NRF is managed prudently. Other countries that have similar funds managed by their Central Banks include Norway, Chile and Botswana. The inflows to the NRF will be in United States of America Dollars which will be deposited in US bank accounts held by the Bank of Guyana. It is important to note that most central banks and SWFs manage reserves by holding them in foreign denominated currencies outside of their jurisdiction. In preparation for its role as operational manager of the NRF, the Bank of Guyana has begun building additional capacity, supported by the World Bank’s Reserves Advisory and Management Programme (RAMP), with whom an agreement was signed on October 1, 2019.
On December 11, 2019, the NRF was one step closer to being operationalised after the Minister of Finance, Hon. Winston Jordan, and the Governor of the Bank of Guyana, Dr. Gobind Ganga entered into an Operational Agreement for the operational management of the NRF, in accordance with sections 11 and 12 of the NRF Act 2019.
This Agreement sets forth the obligations of the Bank of Guyana as the operational manager of the NRF, which include: 1) receiving and accounting for all deposits into the NRF; 2) investing the NRF In eligible asset classes; 3) appointing private managers and custodians; 4) reporting on the performance of the NRF on a monthly, quarterly and annual basis; 5) implementing management systems, procedures and risk management arrangements in accordance with international standards; and, 6) providing the public with information on the NRF as required by law; among others.
The Agreement, which will be published on the Ministry’s website in accordance with section 42 of the NRF Act, also includes the obligations of the Minister of Finance as the overall manager of the NRF that will allow for the effective operational management of the NRF by the Bank of Guyana. Additionally, the Agreement identifies certain principles for the operational management of the NRF to ensure transparency and accountability. Other important aspects of the Agreement include the fees to be charged by the Bank of Guyana, procedures for the appointment of private managers and custodians, and the liability for losses that may occur.
Signing today is a significant next step in establishing strong institutional arrangements to support the effective management of our petroleum revenues.