Category: Speeches

27 Nov
By: Tanika Jones 0

Budget 2019 Speech

Introduction

Mr. Speaker, I rise to move the motion for the approval of the Estimates of the Public Sector and the Budget for the Financial Year 2019, and in doing so, I wish to indicate that Cabinet has recommended that the National Assembly proceed upon this motion, pursuant to Article 171 Paragraph 2 of the Constitution of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana.

Mr. Speaker, it is my distinct honour to be able to deliver Budget 2019, the fifth and penultimate budget of this Administration’s first term in Government. Today presents us with yet another opportunity to highlight our successes and achievements as a Government – a Government that is dedicated to the overall improvement in the quality of life of our people, as represented by a budget that guarantees equality and inclusivity in resource allocation for all Guyanese. Also, Mr. Speaker, this budget is the third to be presented to this House before the start of the Financial Year. The benefits of these early presentations have been evident in the ability of managers to execute their projects and programmes over the twelve month planning horizon, instead of the truncated year that had become the norm in the not too distant past.

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Budget 2019 Speech

 

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19 Oct
By: Tanika Jones 0

Address by Hon. Winston Jordan Minister of Finance at Green Guyana Expo & International Small Business Summit

Green Guyana Expo
& International Small Business Summit

(Theme: Sustainable Economic Growth through Small Business Innovation, Entrepreneurship and transformative Government Policies)

Address by Hon. Winston Jordan Minister of Finance

 

Mr. Chairman
Hon Vice Presidents Ramjattan and Allicock
Other Ministers of the Government and Members of Parliament
Members of the Head Table
Excellencies of the Diplomatic Corp
Representatives of the Media
Ladies and Gentlemen
Boys and Girls:

I am honoured to have been invited to address you at the opening of this inaugural Green Guyana Expo and International Small Business Summit – the first of its kind to be held in Guyana. At the outset, let me congratulate the organisers of this event, especially the indefatigable Eric Philips, who has been relentless in his pursuit to ensure the realization of this event. As he would have indicated, it was in January of this year when he led a three-person team to my office to sell the Green Expo and Summit. I readily came on board – of course, at a cost.

I would also like to extend greetings and a warm welcome to everyone, in particular, our visitors from other climes. Your presence here today is a reflection of your desire to be an active participant in the agenda of this Expo and Summit. I enjoin you to use the opportunity of your presence in Guyana to see some of our sites and to share in the convivial atmosphere for which we are famous. Special recognition goes out, too, the many school children who are in attendance. I want to commend the organisers for inviting them to this Opening Ceremony. Youths are our present and our future. Exposure such as this can only redound to their and our benefit.

Mr. Chairman, this Expo and Summit brings together business experts from Guyana and around the world to educate and inspire local businesses to adopt new strategies and good practices that are necessary to build business resilience and competitiveness. I also expect that this summit will discuss extensively, emerging trends and practices in the green business realm. Let me also state that the convening of this Expo and Summit is another testimony of the Government charting the path to help small businesses to grow and compete successfully.

The theme for this Expo and Summit is “Sustainable Economic Growth through Small Business Innovation, Entrepreneurship and transformative Government Policies”. At this juncture of our development, when Guyana awaits the arrival of first oil, in early 2020, this theme is most apt. This event is being held at a time when the Government is developing, altering and/ or otherwise shifting national policies and investments to reflect a Green Development Agenda. Indeed, since the presentation of our first Budget, in 2015, under the theme, “A Fresh Approach to the Good Life in a Green Economy,” our Government has been pursuing, systematically, a model of development that will be characterized as green, climate-resilient and sustainable. This novel approach will see the use of funds derived from the exploitation of our oil and gas resources to finance the Green Economy. We aim to avoid the pitfalls of many developing countries, including some of our neighbours, who are experiencing serious macroeconomic imbalances and structural disruptions to their economies because of the volatility of oil prices.
In June 2012, the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development was convened, and dealt extensively with the benefits of a “Green Economy”. Since then, a number of governments have adopted, as a matter of priority, economic diversification and expansion that is guided by a green agenda. It is believed that this initiative produces more inclusive economic growth and prepares countries to better address external challenges, such as economic volatility and climate change. And so, it is in this context, that the Government of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana remains resolute in the formulation of the Green State Development Strategy, which will guide long-term planning – to position the country to better address challenges such as economic volatility and climate change – and to make the country better aligned with inclusive growth, sustainable development and poverty reduction. I am very pleased with the overwhelming response to this activity, and look forward to speedy conclusion of the document and early implementation of the projects and programmes.
This Expo and Summit will, no doubt, create opportunities for networking and facilitate trade. I am acutely aware that once accompanied by the right policies, trade can be a principal driver to the transition to a green economy. As identified in the United Nations Green Economy Guidebook, agriculture, fisheries, forestry, tourism, manufacturing and renewable energy are six key sectors that stand to benefit substantially from trade opportunities associated with the increase demand for environmentally-friendly goods and services. Guyana is well endowed with all of these resources; together with the right trade and investment policies, the country can reap substantial benefits from increased production and exports. The resulting improvement in the country’s gross domestic product, balance of payments and national income would be most welcomed.
Mr. Chairman, I want to posit that the achievement of green growth is inseparable from developments in the private sector, particularly small and medium enterprises. In my address to the Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association’s Annual Dinner and Awards Ceremony, in June last year, I made reference to the need for the private sector to hasten the transition to a Green Economy by introducing fundamental changes to the way they conducted business. His call was made in recognition of the fact that, without a decisive contribution of the business community, the transformation of our economy would be made more difficult.
Let me emphasize, that small and medium scale businesses should not be intimidated by the presence of the large, well-established and recognized firms, which would have already established their environmental footprints. Small and medium scaled businesses have a vital role to play in the transformation process as there is now a growing demand for green products and services. And there is no shortage of ideas and opportunities for start-ups to be successful and sustainable. The key is to first find a green market niche that is consistent with market demand and the Government’s priorities and develop it. Here, Ladies and Gentlemen, I would like to introduce to drinking straws made of bamboo, one of the many products, including chairs and beds, of Indonesia with which I became familiar during my recent attendance at the IMF/World Bank annual Meetings, in Bali. Bamboo is very well known in Guyana, as it grows extensively in the wild. Just think of the possibilities of bamboo products replacing, for example, the non-biodegradable plastic straws, chairs and tables. Having banned the use of certain plastic products in 2016, our Government is committed to ban even more by 2020. Small and medium businesses have an opportunity to, in local parlance, “cash in” on the void that will be created.
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, our Government is cognizant of the growing demand for, and the challenges associated with, financing for small and medium scaled businesses in Guyana. The cost of finance remains high and, in spite of the presence and growing influence of a credit bureau, the preference for collateral at formal financial institutions remains strong and is very often not accessible. High non-performing loans and the need for banking institutions to improve their balance sheets and capital adequacy ratio also contribute to stultification of the growth of small and medium businesses. The Government has been playing its part, investing over $1 billion dollars in grant or near grant funding in programmes such as SLED, LEN, HEYS and the Small Business Fund. We have commissioned a study, supported by the Caribbean Development Bank, to examine the feasibility and the need for the re-establishment of a development banking facility or institution to help these businesses in targeted sectors and activities. The preliminary report of the Consultant undertaking the study has benefitted from multi-stakeholder views, resulting a request to the financing institution for a broadening of the terms of reference. Small and medium businesses will benefit further from measures to be enunciated in the 2019 Budget. As our Government continues to develop the national green finance roadmap, we expect the local financial institutions to adopt a less passive approach to financing these businesses. In this regard, during the recently-held Consultations on the 2019 Budget, I asked the Representatives of the Guyana Bankers’ Association to develop new and innovative products to drive our Green Agenda.
Mr. Chairman, investment in urban and rural infrastructure is necessary to stimulate economic activities and provide easier access to markets by small and medium businesses. While the government will continue to play a key role in the provision of infrastructure, the transformational change will require large-scale private sector involvement. And so, given the restricted fiscal space, on the one hand, and the widening infrastructure deficit, on the other, a Public Private Partnership (P3) Framework has been established as a delivery model to overcome some of the challenges that hinder the execution of development projects in Guyana. The framework prioritizes core projects for collaboration between the Government and the private sector.
Mr. Chairman, to reinforce its commitment to a green trajectory, Guyana has applied and successfully gained membership to the Partnership for Action on Green Economy (PAGE). PAGE is an organization that was launched in 2013 to provide assistance to countries in their transition to a green economy and the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The staff at the Ministry of Finance is working collaboratively with PAGE to reframe macroeconomic policies, practices and models that are consistent with the country’s green agenda.
Let me close by, once again, recognizing the diligence, dedication and hard work of the organizers of this event. To all those present, I leave you with this quote from George Bernard Shaw: “The love of economy is the root of all virtue”.

Ladies and gentlemen, I thank you for the courtesy of your attention.

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22 Jun
By: Tanika Jones 0

Senior Economic and Financial Analyst, Dr. Vilas Gobin delivers Presentation at the Budget 2019 Sensitisation and Training Programme 2018, Arthur Chung Convention Centre, Thursday, June 21, 2018

Senior Economic and Financial Analyst, Dr. Vilas Gobin delivered a presentation titled Avoiding Dutch Disease and the Resource Curse at the opening of Budget Sensitisation Sessions hosted by the Ministry of Finance.​

Avoiding Dutch Disease and the Resource Curse
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22 Jun
By: Tanika Jones 0

Address by Hon Winston Jordan, Minister of Finance,at the Opening of Budget 2019 Sensitisation and Training Programme 2018, Arthur Chung Convention Centre, Thursday, June 21, 2018

The Ministry of Finance today opened its first Budget Sensitisation Sessions for 2019 at the Arthur Chung Convention Centre on Thursday, June 21,2018​. The Sessions are  aimed at providing support to Heads of Budget Agencies and their technical teams who hold responsibility for preparation/compilation of Agency Budget submissions.

Heads of Budget Agencies, Permanent Secretaries, Regional Executive Officers, Heads of Subvention Agencies and Constitutional Agencies

Good morning!

I am pleased to be able to join you this morning, at this important event attended by senior officers of the Government sector, who are charged with responsibility for their respective Agency’s budget. The start of the National Budget Cycle is an important milestone in our financial calendar.  Budget 2019 represents the fifth,and penultimate, budget of this Administration’s first term in Office; and the third consecutive year that it will be presented to the National Assembly ahead of the start of the Financial Year. It is, therefore, an opportune time for us to take stock of the results that we have achieved – or not achieved – and to redouble our efforts to deliver goods and services of a sufficient quantity, quality and timeliness. Many of you have been at the helm of your sectors for several years and, therefore, are in a good position to critically and searchingly examine from whence you came, where you are, and where you are going.

As you pause to reflect, let me remind everyone that a national budget is the single most important planning tool in the armoury of the Government. It is a living and dynamic document that gives life to the national and sectoral visions and policies. Most importantly, it is the vehicle through which we implement programmes and achieve national results. When the resource envelope of any national budget is allocated in an environment of stable macroeconomic fundamentals and sound public financial management and, is supported by

  • robust institutional structures,
  • effective management systems,
  • functional monitoring and evaluations systems,
  • and last but most critical- diligent, committed and competent leadership,

then the chances of successful budget implementation are quite high.  However, when any one of, or a combination of, those elements breaks down or goes missing, success becomes evasive, even though expenditure may have occurred.

As Heads of Budget Agencies, you must pay keen attention to ensuring that these elements are all in place in your respective sectors, regions and agencies.

The Government commits to making resources available, subject to the fiscal space, for you to pursue workable solutions. Please bear in mind, that expenditure pressures such as those demanded by, for example, our commitment to improving wages and salaries and national security; bridging the divide between the hinterland and the coastland; and narrowing the infrastructure gap, on the one hand, and revenue pressures to lower taxes and tariffs will continue to impose premiums on planning, programming and pro-active performance.  Since 2015, we have proven that we are up to the task, that we are prepared to implement measures that will benefit a broad cross section of our population. In this regard, we have consistently improved wages and salaries; undertaken sweeping tax reforms to improve tax administration and bring greater equity to the tax system.

We have delivered early National Budgets for 2017 and 2018, to ensure that Heads of Budget Agencies had the entire financial year to implement work programmes – a stark departure from what obtained previously, when budgets were presented as late as end-March and approved in mid-April, thereby implying a 2-month turnaround before the next budget cycle began in early July. Procurement of public goods and services has undergone changes: thresholds have been increased; several training courses in monitoring and evaluation, and  supply procurement have been executed -all with the aim of ensuring an environment that contributes to improved performance in the public service. More recently, we have developed a public-private partnership framework to enable more creative financing approaches, to overcome loss of concessional financing, occasioned by our elevated status of Upper Middle Income Country, as classified by the World Bank.

Spending money is easy. Spending money wisely and prudently to effect results takes skill and effort. It means understanding the problem and finding the solution that gives you the result, then designing a plan and costing it in a way that delivers value for money,then spending the money.Many times, we do the process the other wayaround: we spend money without understanding what is the problem to be addressed. The predictable result is the wastage of public resources that we are entrusted to spend. It is worth the time and effort – please ensure you secure the skills to understand the problems in your sector, devise solutions, plan for and cost the implementation of these solutions.

Additional revenue resources on the not so distant horizon present a wonderful opportunity for Guyana to transition from potential, of which we have so often heard, to prosperity, of which we have so often dreamed. But money alone has never solved a nation’s problems;  in fact, in some countries, it has been the source of bigger problems and conflict. We must remain steadfast in our efforts to strengthen our systems and institutional structures to prevent waste. His Excellency, President David Granger has repeatedly highlighted the need for cost efficiency and results-based performance.Collectively, we are all tasked to deliver on his charge to us.

We are a country that is still far away from where we would like to be. Achieving the Good Life and making quantum leaps in improving human development across socio-economic fronts, will take concerted efforts and resources. Unlike other countries that have squandered their patrimony, the Cooperative Republic of Guyana must be different. We must aim to emerge over the medium term to become a model country that blends the exploitation of petroleum results with the pursuit of a Green state development Strategy. Gains in revenues must be utilised in a targeted and responsible manner to achieve a diversified and resilient economy. Accountability, transparency and good governance must be core principles that drive us to excellence in our work ethic and work output, thus enhancing our capacity to deliver RESULTS, services and works to the people across our ten regions.

The Green State Development Strategy offers a unique opportunity for us to transform our sectors and the country as a whole, along a path of green economy principles.  I hope the budget submissions from your respective sectors will demonstrate green initiatives within the public sector, as well as support engagements with the private sector to boost the realisation of a green Guyana.

Permit me to use an in-house example: increasingly, we have been issuing e-copies of circulars, invitations and notifications from the Ministry of Finance, in our efforts to reduce the use of paper.We have changed our lighting fixtures to LED and, this year,the Ministry of Finance will be sending e-Christmas cards. We urge other agencies to jump on this bandwagon, in the process reducing cost and improving our green efforts, conscious of our environmental footprint. This is a very small, low hanging fruit readily available to be picked. I anticipate that this would be the start of much more that will be done. I would expect, for example,that the Ministry of Business will consider funding start-ups for small businesses to support green initiatives; that our buildings would be incorporating building codes so that support structures that use less energy can be utilised; that we will employ sustainable agro processing practices, and that greater use of management information systems will be made to reduce travel costs and paperwork to name only a few.

With our national development strategy and Local content in focus, we must give effect to Buying Local, wherever possible, to support our agro-producers and local manufacturers. This will contribute to reduced demand for imports, thereby saving foreign currency; improve local value added and growth; and increase national and household incomes and employment.  As I have indicated on several occasions, I am alarmed and get visibly upset when I attend events across our beautiful country and am served imported water, when we have at least half a dozen high quality local producers. Or,when I am served a fruit bowl that includes apples, grapes and imported melons when I would much prefer a juicy Buxton Spice mangoes, a Pomeroon pear, sapodillas, pawpaw, oranges, cashews and watermelons.  In addition, our choices for construction and renovations must seek to use more local woods and manufacturers. These are just a few examples, and I am urging you to incorporate many local content initiatives in your bidding documents.

I trust that the multi stakeholder expert groups that have met to develop the Green State Development Strategy, would have incorporated novel and innovative solutions to the challenges that exist within the various sectors.  The Strategy should provide a menu of solutions that takes account of the peculiarities of our environment.

Far too often, I have found that the budget proposals submitted to the Ministry of Finance lead to more questions than answers. Budget proposals should be solutions to resolving challenges faced in order to achieve results.

Why do we have increasing allocations to the health sector, but continued drug shortages and less hospital inspections than previous years?  Health accounts for 12.5% of the national budget, in 2018. What intervention within the budget proposal will resolve this conundrum of increasing allocations but declining availability?

Why do we have increasing allocations to education but still less than 50 percent of our children as passing Math and English? Education accounts for 17.2% of the national budget in 2018.  What in the budget proposal will resolve this?

Why do we have increasing allocations for maintenance and infrastructure development, yet our Public Sector Infrastructure Programme is filled with requests to rehabilitate existing infrastructure rather than expanding the capital base of the country throughnew infrastructure, where none previously existed? Infrastructure accounts for 13.1% of the national budget in 2018

Are you, as Heads of Budget Agencies, approving performance-based gratuities without measuring performance? Or, worse, are you signing off on poor performance and shying away from your responsibility to take decisions in the best interest of achieving desired results? Are you putting pen to paper when staff do not deliver or simply sitting lamenting in your offices?

You must be able to competently critique systems that are not working or not contributing to delivering the results. And by critique, I mean offer workable solutions.

Are you coming to Budget 2019 hearings to rehash the same problems and hurdles you did for the last several years?Or, are you proposing innovative solutions to drive national development? What is your theory of change for the programmes under your remit?

I hope that these are some of the questions that occupy your minds. I can assure you that they will be asked during your participation at the national budget hearing slated to begin on August 16th.  And the buck, as they, say stops with you. Where there are hurdles, you must innovate and find solutions. Where systems are failing you,must design new, more effective systems. In short, find solutions and deliver results.

The Ministry of Finance and the teams within the Office of the Budget and the Project Cycle Management Division stand ready to assist. We are only an email or whatsapp message away.  These days that is sometimes faster than a phone call.

The sessions for the remainder of today and next Tuesday aim to provide you with the tools you need to finalise your crafting of your budgets for 2019.  Remember, your budget 2019, is being prepared on the cusp of first oil in the first quarter of 2020. The thinking and brainstorming and strategic direction that must go into the preparation must have started before today. And at the end of this 2-day workshop, you should be better able to produce a product that is measurable, quantifiable, and marries problems with solutions. I look forward to you rising to the occasion to resolve the issues facing your sectors and agencies. See the trees, but aim for the forest.

I thank you.

 

-END-

 

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01 Jun
By: Tanika Jones 0

Address by The Honourable Winston Jordan, Minister of Finance at the 48th Annual Meeting of the Board of Governors of the Caribbean Development Bank

Address by The Honourable Winston Jordan, Minister of Finance at the 48th Annual Meeting of the Board of Governors of the Caribbean Development Bank, St. George’s, Grenada

It is indeed a privilege for me to address this 48th Annual Meeting of the Board of Governors of the Caribbean Development Bank. On behalf of the Government and People of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, I extend felicitations to the Government and People of Grenada, the Isle of Spice, for hosting this important meeting.

This meeting is convened at a time of positive outlook for the world economy. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), global output, which grew by 3.7 percent in 2017, is expected to improve to 3.9 percent, in 2018, with growth being more broad-based. This upward trend brings renewed hope for the developing economies of the Caribbean, many of which are still reeling from catastrophic hurricane damage, high debt burdens and declining living standards. Therefore, the time is opportune for such economies to implement structural and other reforms to anchor the recovery efforts and to secure regional resilience and prosperity.

In spite of both domestic and external shocks, Guyana has maintained its positive growth trajectory that has been evident for over a decade. In 2017,the economy recorded a growth rate of 2.1 percent, reflecting improved performances in the forestry and rice sectors. On the other hand, contractions were witnessed in sugar, and the construction and mining sectors. We continued to strengthen public financial management, with significant improvements recorded in both revenue administration and the capital expenditure implementation ratio. Further, we emphasized stimulating private sector activity in more structured ways, especially in light of the emergence of the oil and gas sector with its transformational potential and developmental impact on the economy.

The outlook for 2018 is very positive, notwithstanding further declines in the sugar industry. Real growth is projected to be 3.4 percent, slightly below the budgeted 3.8 percent, with increased output in rice, construction, manufacturing and services sectors. This robust performance is expected to continue into the medium term,with anticipated oil production, in early 2020,contributing to a dramatic increase in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Guyana. The Government is aware of the need to strengthen institutions and broaden the economic base,so as to build a resilient economy that is capable of withstanding both external and domestic shocks. We are in various stages of preparation of pieces of legislation,which are aimed at guiding the management of oil revenues for the benefit of present and future generations.

Guyana has recently adopted a Public-Private-Partnerships (PPPs) Framework, which was laid in Parliament on April 26, 2018. The Framework provides a structured platform for the local and external private sector to meaningfully engage the Government in achieving the national development agenda. The formulation of the PPP Framework for Guyana is as a result of my Government’s proactive stance about obtaining value for every dollar invested, especially in the public sector investment programme (PSIP). Moreover, as Guyana rapidly approaches oil producer status, with the attendant massive inflow of new resources, the inclusiveness of all stakeholders in national development becomes a pressing imperative.

I am pleased that Guyana has been able to garner the support of the Bank to blend its resources with those of the United Kingdom/Caribbean Infrastructure Fund (UKCIF). Through this UKCIF/ CDB co-financing arrangement, Guyana has been able to expand the financial envelope to US$139 million, which will be used to realise waterfront renewal in Georgetown; upgrade the first phase of the much anticipated Linden to Lethem Highway; and construct a bridge across the mighty Essequibo River, at Kurupukari. These projects will be the impetus for the development of our water transport systems and linkingthe more developed Coastal Regions to the Hinterland Regions of Guyana. We look forward with much optimism to their realisation.

Almost a year ago, I had the pleasure of executing the agreement for the 9th Cycle of the Basic Needs Trust Fund (BNTF) Programme, which will see an estimated US$6.145 million being expended on projects and activities that contribute to inclusive and sustainable economic growth. This is an overarching goal of both my Government and the Bank. The suite of interventions is intended to reduce poverty in poor and rural communities, improve access to critically-needed services; and enhance the quality of life in remote and interior areas of Guyana.

In light of the catastrophic events that have had a devastating impact on the small island economies, it is time that we, as a people, begin to seriously consider the concepts of “Building Resilience” and “Building Back Better”. We must objectively dissect our failures, including our less than robust systems;our poorly designed and built infrastructure that continues to collapse in the face of adversity; and our people who seem unprepared in face of the onslaught of Mother Nature. We must develop focused and sensible counter strategies. We must continue to forge partnerships and synergies, and create stronger systems and governance structures to be better equipped to confront severe disasters.

I take this opportunity to applaud the Bank’s swift and decisive efforts in mobilising resources to assist hurricane-impacted islands. Guyana is especially pleased about the Bank’s ramping up of Technical Assistance Grants and other financing for improving institutional capacity and strengthening systems for disaster risk reduction in the Region.

With the continued challenges of accessing concessional resources in the Region, it is increasingly becoming important for the Bank and Member States to partner, in order to maximize the impact of development resources on improving the livelihoods of our people. We must, collaboratively, seek ways and means to ensure increased productivity of public spending in our Member Countries. Whilst Guyana salutes the steps taken by the Bank to improve portfolio performance throughout the Region, including extensive training in Public Policy Analysis and Project Cycle Management, a microscopic examination into the regional dilemma of poor project implementation needs to be undertaken, with a view to laying out robust mechanisms towards improving project delivery. While I applaud the Bank’s concerted efforts to strengthen its oversight functions, more ‘out of the box’ thinking would be needed, if the Bank is to maintain its commendable credit rating. All options need to be explored on ways to maintain this rating, including a careful study on the impact and implications of expanding the Bank’s membership.

Mr. Chairman, I conclude by reaffirming my Government’s resolve to deepen cooperation with the Caribbean Development Bank and fellow Member Countries; and reiterate our commitment to the ideals of the Bank and the Caribbean Community.

I thank you!

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05 Apr
By: Tanika Jones 0

Speech made by Minister of Finance, Hon. Winston Jordan on the occasion of the 43rd Annual Meeting of the Islamic Development Bank Group in Tunisia

H.E Dr. Bandar .M. H. Hajjar, President of the Islamic Development Bank

Distinguished Governors, Alternate Governors and Members of Delegation

Distinguished Invited Guests

Ladies and Gentlemen

I am honoured to address this 43rd Annual Meeting of the Board of Governors of the Islamic Development Bank. The Government and People of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana send you warm wishes for a successful meeting. I would like to thank the Republic of Tunisia for hosting this meeting, and for the warm welcome and gracious hospitality. I extend compliments, too, to the Islamic Development Bank for the excellent arrangements made and the successful organisation of this meeting.

This is my third opportunity to address this august gathering, since Guyana’s formal induction into the Bank’s fraternity, in 2016.I am doing so when there is cautious optimism about the outlook of the global economy.

According to the IMF’s World Economic Outlook (WEO),January 2018, global economic activity continues to firm up. Global output is estimated to have grown by 3.7 percent, in 2017, slightly higher than in 2016. The increase in growth was broad based, with a notable upsurge in Europe and Asia. This improvement has allowed for the revision in the forecasts for 2018 and 2019,to 3.9 percent, an increase of 0.2 percentage points.

Guyana is strategically and geographically located within Latin America and the Caribbean, where recovery is expected to strengthen, with growth projections for 2018 and 2019 being revised upwards to 1.9 percent and 2.6 percent, respectively. Also projected is an 11.0 percent rise in Latin American exports coupled with price hikes of commodities like oil and minerals. These forecasts account for the improved economic scenarios for Chile, Brazil, Peru and Colombia, which are expected to see the biggest increase in growth across Latin America from 2017 to 2018. In spite of this improved outlook, the region still faces several challenges, including climate-related catastrophes, as was so horrifyingly demonstrated by Hurricane Irma, and a plethora of other tropical storms of increasing intensity, frequency and severity. So even while we are excited about the possibilities that can be realised from this outlook, we remain vigilant to any unexpected shocks.

Since its assumption to office, my Government has been steadfast in its resolve to ensure growth in the economy. That resolve has resulted in economic growth averaging about 3 percent, between 2015- 2017. This growth was achieved at a time when many of our neighbours were facing low or negative growth rates and reduced standards of living. Guyana continues to rise to the challenges by fostering conditions and creating opportunities for renewal and expansion in the economy, so that the “Good Life” can be secured for all Guyanese. It is what we promised to the people of Guyana and to our partners who expressed hope in our leadership; and it is what my Government has been pursuing, relentlessly, as its mandate.

My Government has and continues to concentrate on a number of key strategic approaches for the economic well-being of our country. These include:

  1. Strengthening national planning;
  2. Building a robust oil and gas industry;
  3. Consolidating the macroeconomic fundamentals;
  4. Fostering Economic diversification;
  5. Strengthening private sector capacity and its involvement in national development;
  6. Diversification of the agricultural sector;
  7. Investing in human and social development;
  8. Development of climate resilient infrastructure; and
  9. Pursuing equitable growth in a green development agenda.

Mr. Chairman, Guyana has embarked on the formulation of a Green State Development Strategy that will stand as a living example of our country’s commitment to this planet we call Earth. Our Green State Development Strategy will  ensure sustainable growth with equity that redounds to the economic well-being of every citizen. It could become, quite possibly, a model for other like- minded economies.

The Strategy is being fashioned through a collaborative and consultative process, and will be costed to inform future financing streams for the country. It will allow our people an opportunity to shape the scope and scale of our development priorities, given our existing and future resource flows. My Government will continue to assess the economic tides and employ timely policy measures to correct imbalances and mitigate negative effects that could stymie growth. In this regard, we aim to strengthen our analytical capability to determine the macroeconomic effects of various policies and interventions employed to grow our economy. Through the continued partnership with our multilateral partners and, specifically, with our growing engagement with the Islamic Development Bank, my Government is very enthusiastic about the full realization of our development agenda.

Mr. Chairman, Guyana has recently adopted a Public-Private Partnership (P3) Framework, which we  recognize has the potential to expand the resource envelope for public sector investment in a prudent, efficient and effective manner. This Framework provides a structured platform for local and external private sectors to meaningfully engage with Government to achieve economic development.

Agriculture continues to be a major contributor to growth and expansion in our economy.  In this regard, the Government has leveraged the inter-locking capacity of the Bank, and is currently in an advanced stage of designing a Reverse-Linkage Project with the Malaysia Agricultural Research and Development Institute (MARDI), which will assist in updating Guyana’s expertise and technology in rice production. This project will support the introduction of innovative rice varieties that are more resilient and will significantly increase rice yields per acre. I would like to thank the Bank and the Government of Malaysia for the efforts being made to make this endeavour a success.

My  Government continues to be proactive in the promotion of non-traditional agricultural products, new technologies and supporting infrastructure, with the ultimate goal of enhancing national production and productivity. These efforts will not only ensure national food security, but, also, substantially transform the cost structure and competitiveness of our agriculture sector. With the Bank’s continued support as a financing mechanism and provider of technical expertise, we are optimistic about the sector’s growth.

Mr. Chairman, human capital development plays a critical role in long-term productivity and growth at both micro and macro levels of any nation. As a consequence, My Government, in partnership with the Bank, has programmed a project to improve national education at the primary and secondary levels. This project will embrace the Inquiry Based Science and Mathematics Education (IBSME) approach. It will also make use of UNESCO’s Global Micro-Science Experiments programme and supporting mathematics kits and will lead to the integration of mathematics through science lessons. This effort will raise the level of scientific and mathematical literacy among teachers and students while supporting a learner-centered environment.

Mr. Chairman, another critical aspect of human development is that of harnessing, caring and paying homage to a nation’s elderly populace. In 2017, the minimum standards for elderly residential care facilities were completed and enacted in Guyana. Concurrently, the Government approached the Bank for its support and assistance to design a project which will modernize and upgrade the facilities of the Palms Geriatric Facility. The project is expected to procure equipment and furniture. It will also result in the provision of enhanced medical care.

Such a “quick win” project, Mr. Chairman, is welcomed by the Government, not only for its demonstrative socio-economic impact and benefits, but, also, as evidence of the concretizing of the partnership between the Bank and our country. Indeed, since I last had the honour of addressing this forum, there has been notable progress in our relationship. The Bank fielded a programming mission, in December 2017,where a work programme for the three-year period, 2018-2020, was formalized. Financing and technical assistance, of about US$900 million, will be directed to key development areas, including economic infrastructure, rural development, human development and trade and competitiveness.

Mr. Chairman, I’d like to conclude my address by reaffirming my country’s resolve to further strengthen its cooperation with the Bank and fellow member countries. It is quite evident that our joint efforts can go a long way in bringing about socio-economic stability and prosperity in Guyana, which can redound to the benefit of the Latin American and Caribbean Region. Guyana remains hopeful for its future and grateful for the Bank’s support.

I thank you!

Speech made by Minister of Finance, Hon. Winston Jordan on the occasion of the 43rd Annual Meeting of the Islamic Development Bank Group in Tunisia
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