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!