Category: Speeches

18 Mar
By: Tanika Jones 0

Minister Jordan’s Speech at the High Level Workshop on Achieving Performance Targets

Guyana’s Voluntary National Review
To Be Presented At The
2019 High Level Political Forum
March18, 2019– Arthur Chung Convention Centre

Keynote Address
by
Hon. Winston Jordan, Minister of Finance

Honourable Colleagues – Vice-Presidents, Ministers of Government, Permanent Secretaries and senior officials and functionaries of Government, members of the media.

Good morning!

Your presence here this morning is evidence of your interest in today’s engagement. Notwithstanding, I would contextualise this session because, all of us in this room need to appreciate the seriousness of what we are attempting to achieve. Whilst today’s event focuses on our preparedness to undertake a Voluntary National Review, or VNR, of the progress we have made towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, I wish to reflect on our own national development goals.

As you know, this administration recognized the need for a clear vision and a national development plan to be in place.  A vision was articulated by HE President David Granger, for the development of a green economy and, to that end, consultations were held over the last 12 months, across the ten administrative regions of our country, to solicit feedback on the framework of the Green State Development Strategy – Vision 2040. The Strategy is nearing completion, after undergoing substantial analytical work and wide multi-stakeholder consultations, which included drawing from the work of seven thematic groups, compromising a blend of government, private sector and civil society persons. Vision 2040 sets the national priorities and development objectives for us, as a nation, for the next twenty years. Having signed on to United Nation’s Agenda 2030, or the Sustainable Development Goals, as we know it, since 2015, it was no surprise that we have aligned or localised the SDGs within Vision 2040. This means that the implementation of Vision 2040, through your national and sectoral programmes and projects, would be geared towards achieving national priorities, which include the nationally-prioritised targets within the SDGs.

The chosen theme for the July 2019 High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development and this round of VNRs is “Empowering People and Ensuring Inclusiveness and Equality”, which brings Goal 4, Ensure Inclusive and Equitable Quality Education and Promote Lifelong Learning For All4 sharply into focus. Here at home, this means that the primary school child in Whitewater Primary, in Region 1, should be afforded the same essential inputs towards quality of education as the child from a primary school on the coast.  Here, I am speaking of, for example access to workbooks, text books and trained teachers must be the same for the Whitewater Primary students, if we are to truly remove inequalities and improve the quality of education services that our national education system delivers to children. Only then will be assured of a cadre of lifelong learners capable of being transformed into engineers, scientists, data analysts, doctors, agronomists and entrepreneurs-just to name a few specialist skills– and, in the process, positively transform our national development.

Indeed, it was a young, but well-known Malala Yousafzai, who stated “All the SDGs come down to education…” While that may be debatable, all will agree with the iconic Nelson Mandela’s “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

And change our world for the better we must.

Importantly, given the interconnectedness of the goals within any development framework, a multi-agency collaboration is required for the achievement of the SDGs. While we invest in the inputs of schools – dormitories, blackboards, white boards, books and trained teachers – we must ensure, equally, that our children are receiving the nutrition and health care they need to thrive; that the infrastructure to ensure they can access both schools and health facilities is available; that economic activities do not threaten sustainable communities and family structures; and that necessary laws are in place and enforced to ensure their safety and security.  In short, a holistic approach is mandatory, if we are to achieve our national and international commitments.

Over the course of my over four decades of working life, most of which have been in government, I have observed that the approaches adopted to achieve the national development priorities of our country have, in many instances, suffered from several gaps of evidence-based decision-making. Proposals are made for capital investments without thought about cost of maintenance; projects are proposed for implementation without the benefit of feasibility studies; people are trained for job readiness and then money is requested to train more without understanding if those trained previously were actually in jobs. Should we undertake reforms without diagnosing what is causing the problems? I should think not!! But, to diagnose, we must gather data and analyse what information is presented. And the analysis that is required must be based on facts and evidence, not mere conjecture, opinions, feelings and beliefs. And facts are supported by evidence, which is often based on data. Having diagnosed the problem and identified the intervention, what is the plan to MEASURE whether or not it has had the intended output or outcome or impact?

At the national level, we have long adopted programme budgeting techniques, and over the last eight years, we have focused on strengthening our ability to measure performance.  This has resulted in the government training over 1000 officials in Central Government in basic monitoring and evaluation (M&E), to ensure that capacity is built across sectors and administrative regions. Ultimately, if we are not measuring, then we are unable to factually determine what is being achieved and what is not.

We strive within the public sector to deliver services more effectively and timely: in education, we strive to produce quality students who are lifelong learners who are able to contribute creatively and innovatively to the national development agenda; in health, we work to ensure that diseases are prevented and/or controlled; in infrastructure, we aim to design buildings, roads and bridges that will last for decades;, and, in our legal and judicial systems, we establish laws and regulations that we anticipate, when enforced, will contribute to a well-governed society. But, how do we measure whether we are achieving these noble intentions? How do we hold ourselves accountable for the developmental commitments that we make nationally, regionally and globally?

The answer is: We measure them!

At the national level, we identify the goals and objectives and indicators just as we do at the global level. In the former case, they are the national programme performance indicators and, in the latter case, they are the sustainable development goals and the relevant indicators, consistent with our national development priorities.

Assessment of performance is not possible without DATA. We would be doing lip service to these commitments, if we did not take the necessary actions to ensure that we are collecting and analyzing the necessary data. Too much is at stake if there is no measurement.  The survival of our country and the development of our planet are at stake. Thus, to wander in a fog of ignorance is simply not an option.

As Minister of Finance, I have made it one of my core priorities,the improvement of national data systems.  This is an important development, especially at this time, as we enter the ‘silly season’, more familiarly known as the Elections period, when all kinds of questionable data and ‘facts’ and unsupported statements are spewed by politicians. Supporting the Bureau of Statistics in finally having its own headquarters to house its core divisions, and improving staff capacity, even as we seek international support to strengthen data collection systems, have been among our successes. Even as I speak, personnel the Caribbean Technical Assistance Center (CARTAC)are Guyana supporting our efforts to rebase the gross domestic product (GDP), in light of our evolving production profile. Data gathering across all segments of the private sector producing goods or services is critical to the success and accuracy of this exercise. Several of the indicators within the national and SDG framework are expressed as a percentage of GDP or per capita GDP. If our GDP is understated, then our ratios would be incorrect and give a misleading picture of the national position. Information from our national census, MICs report, labour force surveys, and the upcoming agriculture census,  to name a few, all provide key demographic data and other details that permit assessments of levels of inequality, poverty reduction, and other key socio economic indicators.

Just as we reported on the progress made on our commitments to the MDGs, so too we will do for those relevant targets of the SDGs. This time, however, we must aim to be more fulsome in our work and recognize that the national performance is what will drive sustainable development in our country. So I would expect that the level of energy and dedication that we put in completing this progress report would be multiplied across each of our ten regions, to ensure that sustainable development is indeed taking place in all across the country.

Once the data has been analysed, it is the practical work on the ground to change lives across every sector working collaboratively that will ensure sustainability of our development gains.  The very near future brings a new source of revenue, but it is a finite source. It behooves us, therefore, to ensure that we diversify the non-petroleum sectors of our country could.

Committing to a Voluntary National Review is committing to more than just gathering data.It is the analysis of the data and the policy and programmatic discussions that must occur because it is from those that will emerge improved strategic approaches to achieve the timelines that we have agreed. Introspective conversations and constructive criticism must be incorporated; these must be based on evidence about whether we are truly achieving our development objectives.

Ladies and gentlemen, for those of you who are managers of departments, programme and agency indicators are extremely important. Indicators allow you to measure your progress towards achieving a particular target or goal. They allow you to determine value for the money spent. They allow you to determine where your weaknesses are and where additional or dedicated support is required. This is not just to help you to perform better, but to ensure and validate that your agency is delivering its mandated services, to its target population, in the most effective manner. For instance, the data that is reported on maternal mortality is absolutely critical to ensuring that we address the needs of mothers, so that, one day, no mother will ever be lost during child-birth. The data on this indicator, when disaggregated, will allow us to deliver targeted interventions to the most distressed regions, and will also allow us to remedy deficiencies in our systems and institutions. Maintaining strong data systems will enable us to measure our progress towards the achievement of planned results and reporting on them, at the national and international level.

The Ministry of Finance will continue to spearhead the coordination of national performance assessments, as we did for the MDGs, in the past and for the SDGs, going forward. We will continue to provide training and capacity building to ensure a ‘whole of government’ capability is developed. We have consistently, over the years, highlighted the need for costed sectoral plans and data development systems. Since 2016, we have encouraged Budget Agencies to begin incorporating the SDGS within their sectoral strategic plans and programmes. We have emphasised the multi-sectoral nature of the development and the SDGs, and the need for collaboration across agencies and sectors. In the Budget Circular for 2017, the monitoring of the SDGs was further

institutionalised by its inclusion in the text of the Budget Circular. Further, the budget process requires that all Budget Agencies account for the relevant SDGs in their presentations at the Budget Hearings. In 2018, the Ministry of Finance advanced the process through the conduct of a mapping exercise to help agencies identify which specific targets within each SDG could be their responsibility. This was done to accelerate the localisation of the SDGs.

We had requested Budget Agencies to submit, by the end of January 2019, the indicators that they are utilising to measure their progress towards meeting the SDG target. This did not happen in a timely manner and, in some cases, not at all; hence the need for this workshop, today, which follows several outreach sessions last week to support agencies in the completion of this task. Colleagues, I will be frank with you: The submissions thus far are varied in quality. Through the working sessions, today, on selected goals, we hope to advance the data collection process further, to put us in a better position to undertake our Voluntary National Review, for which the final draft has to be completed by the end of May 2019.

Colleagues, Permanent Secretaries, Programme Managers and Officers, as I conclude my address, I wish to thank you for  responding to my request to be here, and I anticipate that today’s proceedings will deliver the outputs that will enable us to not only accelerate the preparation of Guyana’s VNR, but, more importantly, the strengthening of our data systems so that our national performance commitments,  including the SDGs, are measured and we are able to hold our sectors accountable for delivering the services that we are all charged to so do.

 

I wish you productive discussions today.  Please recall that it is the progress that we are able to measure on the ground that will be captured in any report. The task of national development is before all of us.  May we all rise to the occasion of delivering the Good Life to all the people of this beautiful Land of ours.

 

Thank you!

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04 Mar
By: Tanika Jones 0

Feature Address by Finance Minister Winston Jordan at PDAC 2019 in Toronto, Canada

Introduction

Ladies and Gentlemen,

What an absolute pleasure and honour it is to speak with the leaders, investors and stakeholders – the movers and the shakers, so to speak – of the world’s largest, most prestigious mining and exploration Convention!

This is my second time here following my debut last year, and it is a privilege to be given the opportunity to present my government’s aspirations for our country’s prospects in this exciting and still evolving industry.

One of the takeaways from my participation then was the sheer magnitude of opportunities that can be exploited at this event. However, there is an urgent need for governments to have a clear and present strategy to explore those opportunities albeit, with careful consideration for the preservation of the environment and cultures that are impacted by mining activities. Equally, such a strategy must include the improvement of governance of the sector through the development of a robust and competitive regulatory framework, the building of consensus when tackling associated social and environmental challenges, the employment of best practices, and the maintenance of industry standards.

This Convention provides an integral platform for stakeholders to pursue practicable solutions, and break new ground to meet the global challenges that are inimical to the growth and prosperity of the industry. In that regard, the foresight demonstrated by the organisers of this annual pilgrimage cannot go unacknowledged. So please join me in a round of applause for the men and women who continue to make this event the success that it is. (Pause for applause).  Thank you.

Now, as we discuss the future of the industry today, there are issues that we must contemplate and confront. For example, how do we narrow the opportunity gap between stakeholders while maintaining healthy competition; how can we efficiently and effectively harness what is available to us while seeking after new discoveries; how do we manage the partnerships between investors and governments, and investors and communities; how do we ensure that women are adequately represented; and how can we create a more enabling environment that can guarantee investors will be satisfactorily compensated; and perhaps most importantly, how do we achieve all that with minimum disruption to nature.

These are challenges and concerns that will continue to preoccupy our development practitioners and policy makers in the course of charting and executing our economic agenda. My government has invested considerable resources – both human and financial – to examine sustainable solutions to these concerns. So please allow me to re- introduce to you all the Jewel in the Caribbean’s Crown, the Caribbean’s El dorado, ‘set gem-like and fair, between mountains and seas’ – my land, my country, the Cooperative Republic of Guyana.

Synopsis of Country Profile

Last year I explained Guyana in considerable detail. For those of you who were not present then, the geographic location of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, which incidentally has just celebrated its 49th Republic Anniversary, is unique.

It is found on the northeast coast of Venezuela, with Suriname on its East, Venezuela to the West, Brazil to the South and the mighty Atlantic to its North. Not to be confused with Ghana, which is situated in West Africa, Guyana has the distinct advantage of being the only English speaking country in South America, and the perfect gateway for the Caribbean and North America.

Guyana is multi ethnic and multi religious with a population of just about 750 thousand people. And it is a virtual treasure trove of natural resources – boundless arable lands that are rich in mineral deposits and pristine tropical forests that are home to many endangered species.

The economy is vulnerable to the vagaries of international market conditions for critical exports such as sugar, rice, gold and bauxite. Nevertheless, it has for the last 15 years, enjoyed steady, positive growth in the economy. In its most recent review of Caribbean Economies, the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) described Guyana as having one of the fastest growing economies with growth hovering around 3.4 percent. The economy is projected to further expand by 4.6 percent, this year, before returning a stratospheric growth rate in excess of 25 percent next year.

Our fiscal position remains strong, with growing current account surpluses; the balance of payments is projected to be in surplus this year, following deficits in 2017 and 2018; and our public debt is prudently managed, with the debt to GDP ratio being 44.4 percent, well within the internationally accepted ratio of 60 percent for countries emerging from the Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative. The country’s international reserves have been maintained at about 3.5 months of import cover, while inflation has been suppressed at an average of 2 percent over the past four years.

Our banking system is sound; it was strengthened last year with the passage of four pieces of legislation that dealt with insolvency and deposit insurance. At a time when countries such as Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Panama, the Bahamas and Trinidad and Tobago are being added, Guyana has been officially removed from the European Commission’s Money Laundering Blacklist – a fitting reward for my government’s relentless implementation of policies and measures to combat money laundering and terrorist financing, sanitise our economy of dirty money, fight tax evasion and remove the scourge of corruption that plague transactions.

Guyana is generally considered to be a politically stable democracy, and enjoys a relatively peaceful and harmonious existence among the six races that make up this cosmopolitan country. This is quite unlike the situation in several countries in Latin America and some other regions of the world. In fact, right now we are watching democracy at play – it makes for a rather interesting lesson.

In the past 4 years, Guyana has featured repeatedly in the international press for the more than 5 billion barrels of recoverable oil discovered off-shore by ExxonMobil in partnership with Hess and CNOCC. Even if you have spent the last year in the deepest mines of the Cuyuni, I am certain that you have heard stories about these vast discoveries in the land of the fabled city of gold.

And as if to demonstrate its Midas-like touch, ExxonMobil, recently, disclosed its 11th and 12th discoveries. With 17 prospects still to be drilled in the Stabroek Block, Guyana is on target to produce 1 million barrels per day. Indeed, research analysts at Wood McKenzie have predicted that Guyana can surpass oil production in Mexico and Venezuela, thereby positioning the country to become, eventually, a power house in Latin America. Exploration of our off-shore basin will continue apace this year as several licensed operators have signalled their intention to ramp up drilling given the success of ExxonMobil and its partners.

Production of oil is on target for the first quarter of 2020, but there are good indications that this timetable could be advanced to the last quarter of this year. Guyana is expected to earn significant revenue, once production begins, which will be used to create jobs in manufacturing, industry and value added agriculture, among other sectors of the economy; improve and expand the physical and social infrastructure, to, for example, facilitate and support oil and gas activity, accelerate natural resource development such as bauxite, and connect the hinterland and the coastland; and generally bring prosperity and the Good Life to the Guyanese people.

I must admit that as a government and country, we are both excited and cautious. This is a long awaited dream of our people and we are beyond grateful that it has finally happened.

While we have focused much attention on developing the legal and regulatory framework that will govern this new resource, we have also devoted significant efforts to ensure that our other productive sectors continue to grow. We are wary of the dreaded Dutch disease and the resource curse, and are actively devising policies to ensure that our other productive sectors remain competitive even as our economy embarks on structural change.

To further safeguard our impending wealth, my government has successfully developed and passed in Parliament, a Bill that sets out the regime for Guyana’s version of a sovereign wealth fund, which in our instance, is called the Natural Resource Fund (NRF). This fund is modeled after the best practices and principles of sovereign wealth funds, and its objectives include:

  1. Stabilisation of public spending;
  2. Minimising a loss in economic competitiveness;
  3. Fairly transferring natural resource wealth across generations; and
  4. Financing national development priorities.

While the Fund will initially receive petroleum revenues only, there are provisions to allow for excess mining and forestry revenues to be deposited in the Fund. Though much of the current buzz surrounding Guyana pertains to the petroleum industry, I’d like to reassure you that wealth generated from the oil discoveries will be used to create an enabling environment for the growth of our other sectors. Withdrawals from the NRF will Finance national development priorities as outlined in my Government’s new vision for Guyana–the Green State Development Strategy: Vision 2030. This strategy prioritises investments in Guyana’s human capital, infrastructure and energy as we work towards diversifying our economic base and creating an enabling environment for investors.

This means that you can be assured of an expanded pool of skilled labour which will be available to the sector and the cost of logistics will be significantly reduced as a result of investments of critical infrastructure. Upgraded roads, bridges and ports stretching across the breadth of Guyana, will increase the efficiency with which our resources can be extracted, and a clean and reliable energy source will increase the attractiveness of processing our mineral resources prior to exporting.

We are also developing other oil and gas policies to safeguard local content, protect the environment and incubate human resources. We are committed to the development of all of our resources for the realisation of the good life for all Guyanese.

Whither Mining

It would be difficult to ignore or relegate to ignominy, the proud tradition of mining which began in 1868.

According to HE David Granger, President of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, in his monograph, The Green State, “Guyana has been mining and exporting bauxite for over 100 years and gold for about 150 years. Gold mining accounts for 9.6% of our GDP, 24% of exports, and 78% of national mineral production.”

But our mineral portfolio extends well beyond bauxite and gold. Of course, we are known for diamonds and several industrial minerals including silica sand, mica and manganese; base elements such as copper, lead, zinc and nickel; ferrous metals like iron and laterite; energy metals like uranium and semi precious metals like amethyst, green quartz, black pearl, agate and jasper.

The mining sector is integral to Guyana’s Foreign Direct Investment portfolio, a significant source of revenue to Government and a major pillar on which the economy stands. That mining holds an important locus to Guyana’s economy goes without saying. All stakeholders generally agree that if managed well, our abundant natural resources have the ability to change the economic fortunes of the country. It is therefore, reasonable to conclude that my government is in no hurry to replace this sector; rather we want it to thrive.

We are focused on retooling and reforming the sector. In that regard, this Convention is important to us gaining and exchanging information and knowledge in areas such as innovative techniques; methods of sustainability; and survival and productivity, especially in light of climate change. We are all cognizant of the risks that climate change pose to physical assets and infrastructure; supply chains, by the disruption to transport networks; the availability of land and water; and the health and safety of site based employees. These risks are amplified by the already challenging geographies and climates in which mining takes place.

So Guyana is moving beyond merely encouraging increased declarations by small and medium operators. Indeed, we want to encourage innovation into the sector, address the constraints to exploiting and remedy the deficiencies in the investment regime. And my government will continue to ensure that the investment climate is conducive enough to attract you, the investor, to invest and add value to our minerals beyond the mine gate.

So, what’s in it for you, the private investor? Here is a non exhaustive shopping list of reasons why investing in Guyana’s mining sector will be rewarding.

  1. Your investment is safe in Guyana and is protected under our Constitution and laws. My government believes in the sanctity of Contracts entered into with all investors.
  2. We have developed a National Mineral Sector Policy Framework and Actions – 2019 – 2029, which captures our key objectives and elaborates our strategies and approaches in reforming the sector in a holistic, integrated, responsive, and responsible manner. This framework has benefited from several rounds of stakeholder consultations within Guyana.
  3. It also addresses administrative inefficiency, enforcement, bias, corruption, compliance, competitiveness and incentives for investors and performance using modern industry methods;
  4. We have lowered the income tax threshold and introduced a progressive royalty regime for small and medium producers.
  5. In the office responsible for promoting investment – Go-Invest, you will find a friend and partner who is mandated to provide support and assistance to cut through any red tape, thereby ensuring a hassle free experience.
  6. We recognise that land is an important asset for the sector and the bureaucracy for acquiring same can be a nightmare, so we have simplified the procedures for acquiring land. The Guyana Geology and Mines Commission which is represented here today can provide ready information on lands that are available for use.
  7. The Guyana Revenue Authority which is responsible for tax administration is undergoing reform and modernisation; it is capable of advising and expediting your tax needs whatever those will be;
  8. Our Banking sector though challenged recently with correspondent banking issues that have affected the Caribbean and other Regions, is well equipped to handle all your international transactions; credit card transactions and wire transfers can be done easily and quickly;
  9. Access to credit can be arranged with any of the local commercial banks, within the guidelines and regulations governing domestic borrowing.
  10. The exchange rate is stable. There are no restrictions on repatriation of profits, dividends and other earned incomes.
  11. Guyana enjoys a high literacy rate, hovering in the 90 percentile range. There is a ready labour force with experience in mining that you can access easily. Others can be trained quickly to adapt to the technology of the. Sector. We only ask that you treat the workers fairly, ensure their safety and comply with the labour laws of the land;
  12. Because the country is small, you my friends, are assured of easy access to policy makers, technical officers and government ministers.

Conclusion

So Ladies and Gentlemen, there’s no question about the enormous premium of the mining sector to Guyana’s prosperity. It has served us well in the past, and will continue to do so into the future. Significant opportunities exist for investment in it. As a government, we recognise the challenges in realising these opportunities, but we are determined to make sure we create an enabling environment investors who will risk it. By working together, we can ensure the sector continues to flourish and make ongoing contribution to our economy.

I extend a warm invitation to our home, where you will be treated like family. Guyanese are known for their hospitality. We will support your mining, exploration and exploitation while ensuring that it’s done in an environmentally friendly and sustainable manner.

The future is in our power to shape.

Together we can explore the world of possibilities in mining.

I look forward to new partnerships and re-enforcing of old friendships.

I thank you.

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04 Mar
By: Tanika Jones 0

Minister of Finance delivers feature address at Guyana Mining Day in Canada’s biggest mining event – PDAC

Finance Minister tells Canada’s largest mining Convention Guyana is focused on retooling and reforming the sector, wants more than just increased declarations

Local miners, international mining companies, businesses, investors, prospectors and government officials converged yesterday at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre in Toronto, Canada for the annual Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada Convention (PDAC).

Mining companies in Guyana were showcased at a special event called Guyana Mining Day – Guyana in Focus.

Minister of Finance, Winston Jordan who delivered the feature address to a packed room that included analysts, mining executives and geologists said there is an urgent need for governments to devise a strategy for mining that includes consideration for the environment and cultures that are affected by mining activities.

He further told the gathering that oil production is on target for the first quarter of 2020 but it could be advanced to the last quarter of this year.

Minister Jordan said that while the focus is on oil, much work is being done to make all of Guyana’s productive sectors remain competitive and therefore, retooling and reforming of the mining sector is critical. He added that local stakeholders agree that that if our natural resources are managed well, they can change the economic fortunes of the country.

He underscored government’s commitment to reform through the development of a National Mineral Sector Policy Framework which addresses issues of enforcement, compliance, incentives and competitiveness among other critical issues.

The Finance Minister closed his address by highlighting the benefits of investing in Guyana’s mining sector. Those benefits include the protection of investments by the Constitution and laws; a progressive royalty regime for small and medium producers, access to credit, a ready workforce and no restrictions on the repatriation of profits, dividends and other earned income.

Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, Raphael Trotman in brief remarks to the audience pointed out that “Guyana is currently one of the best investment destinations in the world” and added that his Ministry has ‘well established operating rules that provide a safe operating environment for all investors, and flexibility to establish the infrastructure and operations necessary to enable success in their investments.”

Also speaking at the event were Guyana’s High Commissioner to Canada, Ms. Clarissa Riehl, Ms. Lilian Chatterjee, Canada’s High Commissioner to Guyana and former US Ambassador and Senior Vice President of Guyana Goldfields, Perry Holloway.

PDAC which runs from March 3rd to 6th, is a platform that allows miners and prospectors to showcase their work. Presentations were made by Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC), Goldsource Mines Incorporated, Reunion Gold, Avalon Gold Exploration, Sandsprings/ETK, Matallica Commodities and Guyana Goldstrike Incorporated.

The Guyana Mining Day was conceptualised by Guyana Goldfields and is now hosted by the Government of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana through Go-Invest.

-END-

Also read:

Remarks by Hon. Raphael G.C. Trotman, M.P Minister of Natural Resources Guyana Mining Day
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26 Feb
By: Tanika Jones 0

Guyana National Shipping Corporation Commissioning of Modern Warehouse

Remarks delivered by Hon Winston Jordan
Minister of Finance

Mr. Chairman
Members of the Board of Directors
Management and Staff
Members of the Media
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen

Good morning.

I am extremely honored to have been invited to join the Board of Directors, Management and staff of Guyana National Shipping Corporation and all of the other special invitees at the commissioning of this new and modern warehouse. As you would have recognized from the agenda, today’s ceremony is very short, yet poignant, both in terms of the growth and development of GNSC and the advancement of our economy over the coming years.

I understand that the construction of this warehouse is a part of the company’s Strategic Plan that was developed to make it more relevant, more profitable and to enhance service delivery. Therefore, I want to take the opportunity to applaud the Board of Directors and Management for this initiative because, in the changing business environment and with the advancements in technology, companies must respond to and/or adapt quickly to changing customers’ needs, in order to remain relevant and successful in their business and to stand out among their competitors.

It is now globally accepted that, in order to provide efficient Marine Transportation Service, efficient warehouse management is paramount. In particular, an efficient warehouse service must have enough space to perform its inbound and outbound functions, in a timely manner and at the least possible cost. And so, it is my hope that with this new facility will add one more to the attributes that make GNSC a standout Corporation in the field: in addition, to having the biggest wharfage, the Corporation provides a conducive, safe and secure environment for doing business, attributes which rank highly in the preference profile of customers.

I hasten to add that you need to establish more modern warehousing policies and practices that would discourage cargo being stored for excessively long periods. This is an inefficient use of your warehousing facility and adds no value to the service you offer. The customers you serve must understand that when you agree to receive their cargo, it must be retrieved before a stipulated period.

Ladies and Gentlemen, this is a defining moment for Guyana. No, I am not speaking about recent political developments. Rather, I speak of the impending flow of oil and gas and what that means for the Corporation and the economy. As a company, with many years of experience, I expect that your sagacity would cause you to see new business opportunities in this new sector. I encourage you to take advantage of the many business opportunities that this nascent sector promises, so as to ensure that your company remains profitable and competitive, because, as the Minister of Finance, I am aware of the pressure that under-performance of state-owned companies put on the government’s fiscal position.
For many years, we have been made to support a number of state-owned entities, not least of which has been GUYSUCO. That corporation’s rapid decline has impacted many sectors and businesses in the economy, including GNSC, whose wharf, I believe, was used for the domestic transport of sugar. Together with the loss of business in other areas, GNSC’s profit margins have been sharply eroded, resulting in poor financial ratios and rates of return, given the significant assets available and/or employed. Where the Corporation should be declaring dividends to a cash-strapped Government, it is barely keeping its head above water.

The competition is fierce, but this can be met head-on with imagination, innovation and foresight. It would require visionary leadership from the Board of Directors and Management. It would call for a motivated and skilled workforce that is dedicated to making the Corporation number one. I am aware of your Strategic Plan, which highlights Warehouse development, equipment renewal and Wharf Rehabilitation as critical to the success of the Corporation’s 5-year programme. I am sure a lot of thought and brainstorming went into producing it. However, the proof of the pudding is always in the eating – in this case, in the implementation. Lofty plans and ideas mean nothing if their implementation is stymied by one challenge or another; they are met with indifference and reticence; and if they are constructed only to impress.
The Corporation is ideally situated and commands significant assets. But it has no money to implement the game-changing projects that can exploit the known advantages. I urge you to seek out partnerships to overcome this critical deficit. On the Government’s part, we have floated public-private partnerships (P3). We are in active discussions with the European Investment Bank (EIB) on a proposal. I am told that the Corporation has been providing information on its strategy and development plans to EIB for consideration.

Also, we have received an unsolicited proposal from an international firm that specializes in port development, to invest in the GNSC as a P3 venture. The GNSC has been provided with the proposal and it is under consideration. However, given past experience with flawed P3 investments, we have invited the International Finance Corporation, a member of The World Bank Group, to provide professional technical advice and guidance in structuring P3 investments that would be advantageous to our nation, and not be a burden on our taxpayers.
We have also secured technical assistance support from the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and The World Bank to developed a P3 Policy Framework that will serve as a guide to the private sector with regards to the methodology and processes to be adopted in our design, development and structuring of P3s. This Policy Framework was submitted to the National Assembly since 2017. So, even with the expected revenues from oil, P3’s will still be of critical importance to financing badly-needed investments in Guyana.

I must also add that, with the production of oil and, to a lesser extent, gas the Government’s plan is to diversify the economy, so as to ensure that we do not become like some oil producing countries, where oil becomes a curse rather than a blessing. Among other things, the diversification and expansion in the economy will result in a higher demand for imported goods and increase the level of exports. These changes will have implications for the services offered by this Corporation. Therefore, the Corporation should continuously update its plans and strategies to ensure that you can adequately respond to the needs of your customers. You should seek to build capacity and acquire new skills, where needed.

Let me say to the Board of Directors and Management that as a public corporation under the supervision of the Ministry of Finance, I look forward to the complete transformation of GNSC, and the completion of all of the elements of your Strategic Plan. This Government is single-minded in its commitment to provide a level playing field and an enabling environment within which businesses can thrive.

I would like to, once again, all those who were involved in making this new and modern warehouse a reality. I hope that this facility will better serve you and your customers.

I thank you.

More images of this event can be accessed via this link.

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27 Nov
By: Tanika Jones 6

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.

Download The Entire Document Below.

Budget 2019 Speech

 

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19 Oct
By: Tanika Jones 1

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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