Category: Speeches

13 Mar
By: Tanika Jones 0

Feature Address: The Opening Ceremony of the Public Policy Analysis Management and Project Cycle Management Training Programme

February 26th, 2018                                                                  Grand Coastal Hotel, ECD

Hon. Joseph Harmon MSM, M.P.

Minister of State                                        

Mr. Tarachand Balgobin, Director of the Project Cycle Management Division, Ministry of Finance- Chairman, Mr. Reginald Graham; Consultant Coordinator, Caribbean Development Bank;  Dr. Modeste- Chief Planning Officer, Permanent Secretaries, Regional Executive Officers and Heads of Agencies, Members of the Media, Ladies and Gentlemen.  I wish to welcome you all on behalf of the Hon. Minister of Finance who was scheduled to this presentation, but is out of the jurisdiction at this time, to this opening ceremony of The Public Policy Analysis Management and Project Cycle Management Training Programme that is being conducted by the Ministry of Finance in collaboration with the Caribbean Development Bank.  I am also pleased to be associated with this activity since the Ministry of the Presidency has responsibility for the Public Service including the training of Public Servants.

I must also congratulate the participants in this programme for having been selected; for having completed the online aspects of the course work, and for now being involved in the face to face workshops to complete training.

Your participation as the decision makers and senior technicians within the Public Sector in this programme that has been designed to suit our local circumstances will no doubt buttress our Government’s continuous efforts to effectively disburse and expend Government funds and execute programmes and Projects through the Public Sector Improvement Programme (PSIP), the management of which you will be expected to improve.  Additionally, your new skills will be acquired at a time when Government is set to “Roll Out” several innovative projects through its Green State Development Strategy (GSDS) that are crucial for the sustainable development of Guyana.

I also wish to express gratitude, on behalf of the Government of Guyana to the Caribbean Development Bank for choosing Guyana as one of the three Caribbean countries to participate in this pilot training programme.  Guyana’s Public Sector Improvement Programme (PSIP) is largely funded by international donor agencies like the Caribbean Development Bank, an institution with which Guyana has enjoyed productive and progressive relationship since becoming a member in 1970. This developmental partnership has seen Guyana benefitting from many loans and grants, administered through the Ministry of Finance.  These funds are usually aimed at Social and Economic Infrastructural Projects such as Schools, Public Buildings, Roads and Water Projects; Providing Community Skills Training; and Support for Small and Medium sized Enterprises.  The facilitation of training programmes such as these is a further form of much needed assistance to our developmental efforts.

Mr. Chairman, this activity is most welcomed because it is in keeping with our Government’s commitment to the creation of a highly skilled, professional public service and to build the capacity of our human capital.  We believe that the Political Administration should set the Policy framework by conceptualizing policies for development and allowing the professional administrators and technicians to analyze, design and implement those policies to ensure maximum benefits to our citizenry and value for money.

Guided by this philosophy, President David Granger on August 17th, 2015 appointed a Commission of Inquiry into the Public Service, “To examine, advise and report on the Salaries, Conditions of Service, Training and other matters pertaining to the improvement of the efficiency of the performance of the Public service and the well-being of the public servants in the Public Service”. In the Commission’s report the entire Chapter 3 was dedicated to “Training and Staff Development”.  This Chapter embodies a comprehensive analysis of the training needs of the Public Service.  It is now public knowledge that the Commission has completed its work and the Government has embarked upon several initiatives to institutes the recommendations made in the report.  That process is benefitting from the input of many of the participants here today.

Mr. Chairman, I wish to iterate that this training initiative is of significant importance to the Government of Guyana Public Service Reform Agenda, given the important role that the Public Service plays in implementing Government policies and delivering Government services to our people.  However, we have inherited several challenges as it relates to the implementation of Government Polices, Programmes and Projects.  Some of these challenges include monies being allocated under the Public Sector Improvement Programme (PSIP), which is the Government’s main mechanism for capital spending.  In 2015 and 2016 significant sums allocated for developmental projects were not efficiently disbursed.  Several contracts were poorly administered and some have had to be “Rolled-Over” or put on hold.  There was also evidence that some of the Heads of Budget agencies within the Ministries were unfamiliar with the new procurement system.

This has prompted cabinet to initiative regular statutory meetings with Permanent Secretaries and Technical Officers from the Ministry of Finance to ensure efficient disbursement of Public Sector Improvement Programme (PSIP) funds and effective Monitoring and Evaluation of Projects.

At the most recent meeting with the Permanent Secretaries and Technical Officers held in January 2018, a review of spending for 2017, and discussions about work plans for 2018 was conducted.  The review included an overall analysis of the Public Sector Improvement Programme spending for 2017; and project execution rates in 2017.

The review revealed that……..also coming out of that meeting was a work plan for 2018 which included: Preparation of Procurement plans for all agencies; a format for Public Sector Investment Programme (PSIP) monitoring reports; and a format for performance analyses.  In addition, it was decided to provide compulsory training for relevant staff; and promote institutional strengthening.  This included the establishment of Planning Units in all Ministries of Government

Mr. Chairman, this training initiative is yet another tangible indication of our Government’s commitment to: Improved Management of Public Finances; Timely implementation of Programmes and Projects; Greater Transparency and Accountability; Effective delivery of Public goods and services; Obtaining value for money; and efficient and effective allocation of our resources. Governments can have the most modern of Bureaucratic structures and the most advanced information and communications technology but without skilled human resources the delivery of Public Services will be ineffective.

In conclusion, I would like to once again thank the Caribbean Development Bank for partnering with us in support of this training programme, and to challenge each participant with the responsibility of giving his/her best to the information disseminated during the workshops.

It is now my distinct pleasure to declare this training programme on Public Policy Analysis Management and Project Cycle Management Training Programme officially opened.

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06 Mar
By: ict 0

Speech by Minister of Finance Hon. Winston Jordan at the PDAC 2018 Annual Convention




I am extremely honored to have been invited to address you at this globally recognized convention. This is my first PDAC Convention and I owe my presence to the persistence of my son, Darren, who has been in Canada for the past 11 years. When he suggested I attend, I promptly told him that this is a mining event; I am in finance. But, he told me that I was wrong; that this Convention was more than just mining. How right he was: I am glad that I came, for having arrived here only a few hours ago, I have already interacted with a wide cross section of people. In that regard, this Convention provides a wonderful opportunity for networking; and meeting people of different backgrounds, professions, persuasions and climes. In particular, it would be remiss of me, if I did not recognize the value of this convention for exchanging views on pertinent policy issues and investment opportunities in various destinations in the mining industry. Please allow me to add my Guyanese welcome to all of you attending this Guyana Day. I am always pleased to meet Guyanese in the diaspora – to hear from you – your concerns, hopes and aspirations – and to share with you our Government’s vision, plans and programmes in the journey to a Good Life for all of our citizens. Over the next few days, I hope we can sit at the table of brotherhood and sisterhood and break bread in your adopted yard, so to speak. I bring you warmth from the Mudland, where the sun rises in the East in the sugar belt of the Corentyne and sets in the West of our very own Essequibo. Not one cuirass, not a blade of grass! All of Essequibo is we own.

This Annual Convention has become a key event on the Prospectors and Development Association of Canada’s calendar. The Association must, therefore, be commended for attracting such a wide cross section of experts, miners, potential investors and the Diaspora, to discuss global developments that impact the scope and sustainability of the mining industry. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, which were adopted by the UN General Assembly, acknowledged inter alia, the need for environmentally sustainable economic development. The mining industry has a pivotal role to play in the attainment of these goals, by ensuring that its operations leave a positive footprint on the environment, even as it generate profits, creates employment and promotes economic growth.

Ladies and Gentlemen: I would now offer a brief economic overview of Guyana and contextualize the importance of the mining sector in Guyana’s economy.

Economic Overview of Guyana

Guyana is located on the northeast coast of South America, bounded by Suriname on the East, Venezuela on the West, Brazil to the South and the Atlantic to the North.  With strong existing and historical links to the Caribbean, Guyana, as the only English speaking country on the South American mainland, acts an important bridge between these two regions. Our country is multi-ethnic and multi-religious, boasting a land mass of 214,970 square kilometres, which is inhabited by a small population of approximately 750,000 people. The country is well endowed with natural resources, including arable lands, mineral deposits, and tropical forests.

In recent years, the economy has achieved relatively stable economic growth, averaging an annual three percent, slightly below the targeted levels, but consistent with the global trends. Our fiscal position has remained strong, with growing current account surpluses while the overall deficit has been kept within sustainable levels. The financial system is robust, with banks and other non- bank financial institutions being sound and adequately capitalized. Public debt levels are prudently managed – under fifty percent of GDP – while annual inflation has hovered around two percent. With foreign reserves that are over three point five months of import cover, and with no exchange controls, our environment makes for hassle-free repatriation of profits and dividends.

Large hydrocarbon reserves, in excess of 3.7 billion barrels of recoverable oil, were discovered, recently, in the country’s offshore basin. Production of first oil is expected in the first quarter of 2020, with 120,000 barrels per day being targeted. This could eventually reach 500,000 barrels per day by 2025, and up to 1,000,000 barrels per day by the late 2020s. To put this in perspective, our neighbour, Trinidad and Tobago, has current production of a mere 39,000 barrels per day, while Oman’s 2017 production was 1,000,000 barrels per day and it was ranked 19th largest oil producer in the world. And this is only from the Stabroek Block, which is controlled by Exxon and partners. There are other major oil producers who have expressed interest in, or are already exploring on, the shelf. Annual earnings for Guyana from royalties and profit share from petroleum production could rise from over US$300 million in 2020 to over US$1 billion by 2025. Perhaps, not since the introduction of plantation sugar in Guyana, has a product have the capacity to revolutionize the country. From potential to prosperity, these resources, properly utilized, can have the transformative effect about which many past generations of Guyanese could only dream, but which the present and future generations could realize. This is why, to avoid the resource curse, of which we have been repeatedly warned, we are fashioning a constructive and enlightened Sovereign Wealth Fund, to provide for inter-generational equity. The Fund’s legislation is expected to reach Parliament in the last quarter of 2018.

We are also developing a Green Development Strategy in collaboration with the UN Environmental Programme. This Strategy seeks to articulate our Government’s vision of a green economy, using our new-found wealth. It will emphasise our thrust to diversify the economy away from its dependence on what our President has coined the Six Sisters – gold, bauxite, diamonds, timber, rice and sugar. They have served the economy well through the years; but, now, they have grown tired and are need of retiring and/or re-tooling. Our intent is to focus more on value added and manufactured goods. Further, the Strategy will elaborate on our resolve to move away from fossil fuel generated power to an energy mix comprising hydro, solar, wind, baggase and natural gas. Already, we have committed to 100 percent clean energy by 2025 and are working with the Government of Norway in pursuit of this objective. Finally, the Strategy will lay in bold relief our desire to bridge the developmental divide between the coast and the hinterland through undertaking massive infrastructural, economic and social projects and programmes.

Ladies and gentlemen, I do understand that all eyes and ears are now turned to developments in Guyana’s mining sector and its impact on the economy. I will now try to give you a brief overview of Guyana’s economy, with particular emphasis on the mining sector. Next, I will touch on the fiscal regime that is in place for mining. Finally, I will indicate some of the ways you, as investors, may enter the Guyanese mining sector.

The importance of Guyana’s Mining Sector

The mining sector is economically important to Guyana. As a share of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), mining accounted for approximately fifteen (15) percent at the end of 2017, with gold being the main contributor. Mining is also the major source of Foreign Direct Investment into the country, accounting for approximately twenty- five percent of the total amount. The mining sector is also a significant source of government revenue and provides approximately fifty percent of the foreign exchange needed to support the country’s international reserves and Balance of Payments. As an employer, the mining sector has been able to absorb a significant number of persons in its own right, as well as those released from other mining activities, such as bauxite, or other activities such as agriculture.

The impact of mining has had far reaching tentacles into the other sectors of the economy. It allowed for increased transportation, specifically into the hinterland regions, where mining is the dominant activity. Increased mining activities in hinterland regions has resulted in an expansion in the physical and other infrastructure in these regions, in as much as it has provided very important communication links with the coast. For those, with limited knowledge of the country, most of the population lives on a narrow strip of the coastal belt, which is six (6) feet below sea level, thereby making it susceptible to rising sea and ocean levels and other climatic phenomena. Mining in the hinterland regions thus provides a natural gravitation to higher ground by segments of the population.

Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, Guyana is endowed with a vast and diverse array of high quality metallic and non- metallic minerals. Gold, diamond and bauxite production dominate the mining sector activities, with gold accounting for more than fifty percent of annual output. Though declining from peak performances in the 1970s and 1980s, bauxite production is set to rise with increased production by the two foreign-owned companies as well as the coming on stream of a new entity.

Guyana is also moving to again produce manganese in the North West region of our country, specifically Matthew’s Ridge. A foreign investor is scheduled to begin production in the last quarter of this year. I encourage you to come Guyana, and to search, explore and exploit our rich deposits of minerals, rare earth metals, precious and semi precious stones and metals.

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, one of the main reasons why this sector is unable to unleash its full potential is the unavailability of the requisite capital to local investors. To address this challenge, our Government is encouraging local miners to establish linkages with foreign investors and members of the Diaspora to access the necessary financing and technology. Recognizing the importance of the mining sector to the economy, and in an effort to make the sector more competitive, the Government has been providing fiscal incentives in the form of concessions on machinery, equipment and fuel, and waiver and remission of taxes on motor vehicles, based on the value of gold declaration. Mining Operators are also permitted to hold foreign exchange retention accounts. Larger operators are subjected to an Investment Development Agreement that allows for duty and tax concessions for specified periods in the life of the investment. With our one-stop investment agency, Go-Invest, ably facilitating investors and helping them to cut the red tape and bureaucracy, investors can be guaranteed the safety of their investment and the ease of doing business.

I mentioned, earlier, that Guyana currently exports gold, diamonds, bauxite and, to a lesser extent, silica sands. These are all well-established industries, which are found well-identified areas of the country. Gold is found, primarily, in our greenstone belt, which I understand is a continuation of the Ashanti belt in Africa and runs through French Guiana, Suriname, Guyana and Venezuela. The major gold finds within the region occur within this belt. The Canadian-owned company, Omai Gold Mines, had previously mined for gold in this belt, as, indeed, are other companies – Guyana Goldfields,, ETK Sandsprings,  Strata Gold  and others. I would encourage you to remain and hear what they are doing.

But, no success story comes without challenges. And so, with the contraction of the agricultural and forestry sectors, an increasing number of investors have been gravitating to the mining sector.  This has created difficulties in that many of them are new to mining, have no experience in the sector and put a strain on land allocation and administrative resources. More attention will be paid to providing education and training, particularly on engaging of safe practices, and environmentally-friendly and sustainable mining.

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, our Government is cognizant of the fact, that a strong legal and regulatory framework is a prerequisite for the orderly and safe development of the sector. As such, we will be undertaking revisions of the Mining Act and Regulations. These are expected to be completed and laid in the National Assembly by the end of 2018.

As a country endowed with an abundance of natural resources that are, for the most part, produced for export, Guyana’s openness to the rest of the word exposes us to predicate crimes such as money laundering. Hence, maintain confidence and integrity in our financial system, we have, in the context of AML/CFT, put the requisite laws and regulations in place to combat such activities.


So, what can we offer you? Guyana is still under-explored in terms of it abundance of mineral resources. So, if you are interested in exploration you must first apply for Permission for Geological and Geophysical Surveys better known as PGGS. You need to apply to the Minister of Natural Resources for this. To the Guyanese in the Diaspora: if you want to share in the buzz and excitement stemming from our recent oil discoveries; if you want to help us to diversify the economy, so as to ensure our non-dependence on petroleum revenues; then now is the time. The motherland needs you, your financing and your expertise! Come home to Guyana!

I thank you for your attention!


Click Here to see the document – Minister of Finance Speech at PDAC 2018 Annual Covention

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18 Jan
By: ict 0

Minister of Finance, Hon. Winston Jordan remarks on the occasion of the Signing Ceremony for the Sustainable Land Development and Management Project

Your Excellency President David A. Granger; Colleague Ministers of the Government; Mr. Reuben Robertson, Country Representative of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (Guyana Office); Representatives of other sector agencies; Members of the media; other invited guests, Ladies and Gentlemen:

Today, I am pleased to make Brief Remarks on the occasion of the signing of the Sustainable Land Development and Management Project which will be implemented by the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission in collaboration with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (UNFAO).

Allow me to begin by saying that I endorse this project, which has been designed to ensure that the productivity and economic potential of our land is maintained, even as we utilise our natural resources to streamline and develop our green economy. Indeed, the overarching goal of sustainable land management should be to contribute to government projects and programmes that are aimed at achieving poverty reduction, economic growth while promoting the full utilization of land resources in a sustainable manner. As such, issues to do with improving land tenure security; enhancing the efficiency, transparency, and improving service delivery of land titling and registration; and enhancing local government capacity to undertake land management functions, must be brought into contention.

I am happy that this project has been designed to tackle many of these areas. We have high expectations that this land management project will provide the required data to inform our planning processes, and help us to position, strategically, our physical infrastructure such as roads, bridges, drains, culverts and other structures, in order to avoid disrupting the ecosystem. It will also allow us to protect and rehabilitate those areas that have been degraded through irregular and unsustainable mining and logging practices that cause erosion and contaminate our waterways, among other negative effects. Further, it is envisaged that sound land management will provide information that helps to reduce the level of production risks and protect the natural resources potential by preventing degradation of air, soil and water quality. More importantly, it will help to ensure that economic ventures are socially acceptable and sustainable.

Lest we think otherwise, land management is absolutely essential, since it combines technologies, policies and activities with socio-economic principles and environmental concerns, in order to maintain and enhance the production of goods and services. The report from a global study that was conducted in 2013, proved that sustainable land management has the potential to feed more people; provide opportunities for growth and livelihood diversification, restoration of natural ecosystems; address climate change impacts and build justice and security for the rural poor.

In my maiden 2015 Budget Speech, and in recognition of the agricultural sector’s contribution to the economy, I pledged our Government’s commitment to: (i) restore and enhance soil fertility; (ii) crop rotation; (iii) efficiency in water use; (iv) reducing the use of chemicals and pesticides, among other measures. I wish to let you know that Government remains committed to this thrust through its yearly budgetary allocations to the sector.

I note that a key objective of this sustainable land development and management project is to create an enabling environment which will help to shape our economic landscape in the areas of renewable energy initiatives (solar, hydro and wind power), the preservation and protection of our eco-system, promotion of eco-tourism, and the creation of green jobs and green spaces for recreational purposes. It has been determined that these efforts would require a cross-sectional approach consisting of Government, the private sector and civil society in order to flourish.

Recognising the need to protect Guyana’s natural capital, the concept of sustainable communities was materialised through the establishment of the Ministry of Communities – the vision of His Excellency President Granger.  This vision allows for the building of cohesive, empowered and sustainable communities that would protect the natural capital, boost socio-economic growth and increase job opportunities through Government’s support to micro, small and medium enterprises (Budget Speech, 2015 p.51). This is being done, currently, through initiatives such as the Micro and Small Enterprise Development Project and the Amerindian Development Fund.

I should highlight that the SLM addresses, to varying degrees, a number of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular, SDG 15 – “Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably managed forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss”. More importantly, it will develop data gathering and monitoring, reporting and verification (MRVs) mechanisms that would assist in supporting the implementation of our Green State Development Strategy and help us to monitor our progress towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

In closing, the Government of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana looks forward to the timely and seamless implementation of this transformative project.   We need to take stock of lessons learnt and ensure that slippages identified in the implementation of GRIF projects – those associated with time and costs overruns – are not repeated in this project.   I want to impress upon the implementing partners of this SLM project to ensure that all deliverables are achieved within the specified timeframe and budget. This, of course, would require the cooperation of all relevant stakeholders to support the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission in carrying out its mandate to realise the goals of the Sustainable Land Management project

Thank you

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27 Nov
26 Jul
By: ict 0

Budget 2018 Preparations underway; Minister of Finance addresses participants of sensitisation workshop

Address by Hon. Winston Jordan, Minister of Finance at the Opening of the Budget 2018 Preparation and Sensitisation Training Workshop, Georgetown Marriott Hotel, July 24, 2017


Heads of Budget Agencies; Other Senior Officials of the Government; Members of the Media; Ladies and Gentlemen:

Good morning!

I am pleased to be able to be with you at the opening of this very important Budget Training and Sensitisation Workshop. Coming from a budgeting background – having been in the business for over 30 years – I could not pass up the opportunity to address you, when I was invited to do so by the current Director of Budget, Ms. Sonya Roopnauth, whose sterling work and accomplishments in the field of budgeting and public financial management was duly recognised, this year, with the award of the Golden Arrow of Achievement, our country’s fourth highest national accolade. Sonya, may you continue to render yeoman service to the nation for many more years to come. (more…)

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29 Jun
By: Tanika Jones 0

Feature Address Delivered By The Honourable Winston Jordan, Minister of Finance to the Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association Dinner


Mr. Shyam Nokta, President of the GMSA

Other Distinguished Members of the GMSA

Other Invited Guests

Members of the Media

Ladies and Gentlemen

It is certainly a pleasure to be able to join you this evening.  Breaking bread together is always a good occasion in a relationship to share good conversation, renew and deepen bonds of friendship and mutual respect, and make plans for future engagements and more successes.

Let me also use this opportunity to congratulate Mr. Shyam Nokta on his ascendancy to the Presidency. A few weeks ago, in a conversation with our diaspora, at our Embassy in Washington, DC, USA, I called for a “new breed of private sector individuals”. I went on to explain that my “new breed” would be at the heart of innovation, would be using cutting edge technology, and would be joining forces with regional and other bodies to overcome deficits of financing and human resources, among others. This statement apparently generated a lot of angst among the top echelons of the Private Sector Commission (PSC), whose reaction was as swift as it was negative.

Mr. Chairman, what I implied in that statement is that I would like to see the emergence of people like Shyam, whose achievements in the business environment blended with his youth and vibrancy, holds much promise for both advancing and transforming business organisations. In the immortal words of Robert Kennedy, former Attorney General of the USA, “This world demands the qualities of youth: not a time of life but a state of mind, a temper of the will, a quality of imagination, a predominance of courage over timidity, of the appetite for adventure over the love of ease.” Shyam, I hope your tenure would be marked by “… a quality of imagination, a predominance of courage over timidity…”

Manufacturing and Services Contribution to GDP and the Economy

Along with agriculture, the manufacturing and services sectors are important elements in any country’s economy. Undoubtedly, they make direct and significant contributions to gross domestic product (GDP) and job creation, and provide crucial inputs for the rest of the economy, thus having a significant effect on the investment of a country. Let me reiterate that it is certainly this Government’s intention to continue to take steps to create a climate for business that is conducive to creating robust and sustainable manufacturing and services industries. Growing the share of manufacturing and services as contributors to the national pie remains a priority of our Government, as we aim to deliver a more diversified and green economy.

Perhaps, this is an opportune time to pause and reflect on our economy, and the place of manufacturing in that performance. In doing so, I want to assure you that I am not ignoring the importance of services. Indeed, that sector represents the largest share of our GDP, overtaking agriculture and industry. However, I think we all recognise the key role manufacturing plays in the development of a country. According to the 2016 publication of ECLAC, titled Latin America and the Caribbean in the World Economy: The Region amid the tensions of Globalization, “For all the progress of the service economy, and the digital economy in particular, the manufacturing sector has remained a major source of global economic dynamism. This is reflected in its high share of productivity growth and global exports, far outstripping its impact on value added and employment.” [So, there we have it!]

Now, a cursory examination of Guyana’s economy will show that it has grown consistently in real terms over the last decade, largely due to favourable commodity prices and debt relief. Between 2006 and 2016, real economic growth averaged 4.3 percent per year. As you know already, Guyana is a commodity-dependent exporter. So, consistent with that description, our economy’s growth over the last decade, indeed, since Independence, has been driven by one or two primary products – bauxite, sugar and, more recently, gold. In fact, six primary commodities (gold, bauxite, rice, sugar, timber and fish) contribute in excess of 80 percent of total exports. While the economy was growing at this creditable rate, manufacturing’s contribution stagnated for most of the period. Growth in the manufacturing and services sector averaged 2.8 percent and 5.1 percent, respectively over the past decade; the share of manufacturing averaged 7 percent, between 2012-16, increasing incrementally between 2012 and 2015, before falling to 6.5 percent in 2016.

The same trend was observed when sugar processing and rice milling were excluded from manufacturing. Here, other manufacturing, which contributed 3.9 percent to GDP in 2012, increased to 4 percent by 2015, before returning to 3.9 percent of GDP in 2016. This dismal showing is expected to continue in 2017, when manufacturing is projected to be 6.6 percent of GDP, of which other manufacturing is estimated to be 3.8 percent of GDP. On the strength of these statistics, manufacturing share of GDP would remain constant at 6.6 percent of GDP in 2017, five years after it would have achieved that share in 2012; while other manufacturing would have regressed over the same period, from 3.9 percent of GDP in 2012 to 3.8 percent of GDP in 2017.

Continuing with the state of the economy, we have seen growth taking place in the context of low inflation, while the public debt has been maintained within sustainable levels; at the end of 2016, it was approximately 46.3 percent of GDP. In spite of positive economic performance, sustainable, broad-based growth remains elusive. Our economy remains vulnerable to terms of trade reversals, climate variability, environmental degradation, natural disasters, and other exogenous shocks.

As a result of the early Budget 2017, which was presented in November 2016, we have witnessed an expanded pace of implementation relative to last year. However, weak institutional capacity continues to hinder the ability of the government to provide adequate social services and physical infrastructure, and a reliable regulatory framework to support private sector growth. All of this have combined to give the country a very low rating – 127 out of 188 countries – on the UNDP’s Human Development Index, with a score of 0.68 compared with the regional score of 0.75 for Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC). Notwithstanding an improved score of 3.4 out of 7 in 2016 compared to 2.8 in 2006, the government is acutely conscious of the country’s underperformance in many indices of the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index (GCI) related to the quality of our institutions, governance, ease of doing business, and competitiveness.

A competitive, diversified and more inclusive economy is essential to improved trade performance, the expansion and sustaining of job creation, the strengthening of revenue generation. The government’s medium-term strategic vision aims to improve institutional capacity and create a prosperous climate for private sector activity. As expressly stated in Budget 2017, the objectives are to (1) stabilize the economy and public finances; (2) design the necessary legislative, regulatory and policy framework to manage oil and gas revenues and oversee the sector; (3) encourage and support entrepreneurship; (4) create more job opportunities; (5) boost innovation; (6) reform business facilitation; (7) build climate-resilient infrastructure; (8) improve the quality of life; (9) address poverty; and (10) reform the public and financial sectors.

While the global economic outlook has improved moderately, Guyana cannot rely on external developments to alleviate domestic growth constraints, especially given its elevated status of upper middle income country, with the attendant loss of concessional resources for development. Progress will require more collaborative partnerships across our society.

The next phase of growth is about the dynamism and agility of the private sector and the synergies between the private sector and government. The recent completion of the Green State Development Strategy Framework (GSDFS) document, which has been placed online for comment, provides a strong platform for such collaboration and the transition to a faster growing, more inclusive economy. The broad thematic areas will include alignment of national goals to international commitments including the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  National consultations will soon spread across the country. These are expected to last well into 2018, to ensure the final strategy has wide participation and buy-in from all groups within our society.

Mr. Chairman, while the government is expected to continue to create the enabling conditions for a green economy and lead by example, the GMSA needs to start acquainting itself with the GSDFS and the many opportunities afforded manufacturers.  In this vision for a clean, green, sustainable economy in Guyana, the private sector has a responsibility to ensure that this transition takes place by introducing fundamental changes in how they conduct business. A new study by the World Economic Forum has identified 16 emerging-market firms that are turning eco-consciousness into a source of competitive advantage. These companies turn limitations into opportunities. Limitations such as resources, labour, and infrastructure motivate these companies into thinking creatively “out of the box” and turning these opportunities into profit. For example, India’s Shree Cement, a company plagued with water shortages, developed the world’s most water-efficient method for making cement, in part, by using air cooling rather than water cooling. Broad Group, a Chinese maker of air conditioners, taps waste heat from buildings to power its machines. Zangzidao Fishery Group, a Chinese aquaculture company, recycles uneaten fish feed to fertilize crops. Sekem, an Egyptian food producer, set itself the task of reclaiming desert land through organic farming. Similarly, our corporate sector should look beyond the conventional business model and be innovative. Don’t wait for the government to lead the way; you — the private sector — are the proverbial engine of growth. You should now seize the initiative to be the engine of “green growth.”

What is exciting for our country is, that as we work together on achieving a green growth pathway, the development of our offshore oil and gas natural resources has begun to feature in our medium term fiscal path, with first oil expected mid-2020.  This certainly is a turning point in our economic history in the development of country – one that has not been witnessed since King Sugar was introduced in the 16th Century. This is a responsibility that the government takes seriously and, in this regard, a number of initiatives either have been taken so far or are in the process of being taken, including:

    1. the  design of both a fiscal regime and a fiscal sustainability framework to address the management of natural resources wealth  
    2. the development of a Green Paper on the Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF)
    3. the preparation of  draft SWF legislation by the Commonwealth Secretariat. This draft has benefitted from extensive comments by a number of our multilateral and bilateral partners. An inter-ministerial technical team is being formed to oversee the finalization of this draft, which will then go to the Cabinet. After that process is completed it will be made available to the public for wide consultations, before being introduced into Parliament.
    4. development of a local content policy
    5. development of a time-lined work-plan on what public and private sectors need to do to prepare for first oil and thereafter.

I am aware that several private sector engagements with Exxon have already yielded expanded business opportunities for many of you, and we anticipate there will be more in the coming months and years.  However, let me categorically state that the DIVERSIFICATION of our economy, with or without oil and gas, is our number one priority. We are passionate about this, having witnessed what has happened to many countries with large natural resources wealth, which squandered the opportunity to use those resources for economic diversification. The painful consequences of crises and adjustment cycles have been observed, whenever oil prices drop sharply or persistently, or when the resources are exhausted, as they do ultimately. We have an opportunity to make Guyana a model country in terms of our responsible use of the oil and gas resources. To this end, balancing the amount we save for inter-generational security and stabilization, one the one hand, and investing in the expansion of the economy, on the other are the core issues that will drive  future discussions in this area.

So, the question is what combination of actions from your sector participants, in partnership with Government, will better enable the manufacturing and services industries to be effective drivers of sustainable growth? Mr. Chairman, I submit that contrary to the oft refrain that successive governments have done little for the manufacturing sector, there is substantial evidence to debunk this. In addition to the wide-ranging concessions granted by previous administrations, there have been several legislative and operational changes in support of the manufacturing industry in Guyana, since May 2015. These include:

  • The exemption of duty on the import of machinery for use in the manufacturing process and raw materials were maintained; in addition, the importation of raw materials has been done free of excise tax since 2016.
  • Manufacturers are also granted waivers on duty and taxes for items that are not listed on the approved list of raw materials, providing that applications are made to the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED). In this regard, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has facilitated several private sector companies, over the past 6 months, in their approach to COTED.
  • Further, in response to the numerous complaints of extended processing time to clear imports, several initiatives were implemented by the GRA that resulted in significant reduction in processing time. We have seen the introduction of the ‘Trusted Trader Status’ to compliant importers, including manufacturers. This status entails less frequent checks, and less documents and physical examinations that are subject to internal controls. Manufacturers no longer have to over-stock to reduce the lengthy processing time to clear items, thereby facilitating better inventory and cash management.
  • As mentioned in Budget 2017, the implementation of the Single Window Automated Processing System (SWAPS) and the successful installation of ASYCUDA – for which a contract has already been awarded to acquire the software from the UN – would enable information sharing, reduce red tape and ease doing business in Guyana.
  • Another major initiative that was implemented to boost the manufacturing sector was the granting of 1-year tax exemption letters, as opposed to the previous system of approval per consignment.
  • Additionally, the manufacturing sector benefitted from a reduced corporate tax rate, declining from 30% to 27.5%. In addition, manufacturers who generate sales of under $15 million are exempted from registering for VAT. Further, the VAT rate was reduced from 16% to 14%.
  • Previously, entities that were mainly zero rated were required to pay VAT on imports and subsequently make claims for VAT refunds. However, effective February 1, 2017, legislative changes were made to grant tax exemptions on the import of raw and packaging materials for importers that export 50% or more of their products. Additionally, the financial obligations of companies which are engaging in the manufacturing of exempt supplies were considered. On this basis, VAT exemptions are granted for the local and overseas purchases of raw materials and packaging materials for companies producing exempt supplies.
  • Another benefit was the increase in the statute of limitation from 3 years to 5 years, thus entities have an additional 2 years to claim for VAT credit. These initiatives were implemented to reduce the cash burden that was previously faced by manufacturers.
  • Procedures were put in place to grant compliant companies one-year Tender Compliances instead of the previous 3 months. The GRA has also moved towards a timely payment of VAT refund to compliant taxpayers.

Wow! that was quite a mouthful. I hope you are taking advantage of all of these measures to retool and expand your industries.

Earlier, I referenced manufacturers who exported more than 50% of their production being given concessions. Mr. Chairman, there is much more that the government is doing to encourage manufacturing exports:

  • we are pursuing an export and investment promotion strategy, with support from the Inter-American Development Bank, that will see the enhancement of the national quality infrastructure, inclusive of the construction of a modern, state-of-the art laboratory.
  • strengthening the capacity of the Ministry of Business, including developing an information system for the network of laboratories; improving data gathering capabilities on exporters needs on quality and standards; and improving information dissemination, awareness and capacity building.
  • construction of two modern abattoirs in Regions 5 & 9.
  • undertaking a study, supported by the Caribbean Development bank, to quantify the demand for development finance resources by target groups so as to inform the feasibility of establishing a National Development Bank.

We aim to break the back of the excessive and unnecessary import of a range of food items and other products, which were either previously manufactured in Guyana or which can be easily manufactured in Guyana.

Mr. Chairman, your government has heard the calls for reducing the cost of capital and, to that end, a suite of reforms is underway to transform the domestic financial landscape.  

  • Domestic financing instruments have been identified as the cornerstone of the development of a market for government securities. As such, consideration is being given to deepening the primary market and the establishment of a secondary market.  The government invited an expert mission to advise on this initiative; the recommendations were submitted last week and are currently being reviewed.
  • Modern public debt management legislation is being drafted to capture roles and responsibilities of institutions and entities in keeping with international best practice. This legislation will replace the ad hoc and dated pieces of legislation in this area of public financial management.
    • A public private partnership (P3)  policy framework has been drafted and I have assigned a technical team to review it. The draft framework benefitted tremendously from the views of the private sector. it will be recalled that the Ministry of Finance recently chaired a dialogue with the private sector, during which your input was sought for a P3 model with various modalities of delivery. Once finalized, this policy framework will guide the upcoming future P3 engagements, including those envisaged for the New Demerara Harbour Bridge, which will be advertised by the third quarter of this year; and the Linden/Lethem Road. The government will do the stretch of the road, from Linden to Mabura Hill as well as the crossing at Kurupukari. The remaining stretch, from Mabura Hill to Takatu Bridge, will be  divided into 2 lots and will be put out to tender by end of this year.


  • Funding has been secured for the implementation of a Cashless Payment System in Guyana. This will facilitate real time payment and settlement within and outside of Guyana, will support more efficient trade transactions, and reduce the incidences of robberies.
  • In the GMSA’s submission for consideration in Budget 2017, a request was made the review and change the rules of the Securities operations, so as to encourage listing of companies.  I am pleased to report that we have a first draft of the new securities legislation. Following the consultations and comments from stakeholders, a second draft is expected at the end of July of this year. The new securities legislation will give birth to the collective investment scheme; it will allow a central depository and will address the rules regarding listing of companies.
  • The only credit bureau in Guyana, CreditInfo, has reported an upsurge in the use of their facility, following the amendments to the law in January 2016. Twice the volume of data has been uploaded to the credit bureau database and three times the number of reports have been issued between January 2016 and January 2017. All financial institutions are uploading data to the credit bureau and all microfinance institutions have now signed on. This augurs well for the private sector in the context of risk management and the de-emphasizing of immovable collateral when accessing loans from financial houses.
  • As we expand the range of options for financing both government and private businesses in Guyana, the government will study the benefits of acquiring a credit rating from a reputable rating company. A favourable credit rating can improve the country’s image in the international financial markets and lead to a lower cost of borrowing.

Mr. Chairman, the cost and speed of data flow and connectivity is another critical and catalytic infrastructure priority. Having passed the Telecommunications Act 2016, which paves the way for liberalization of the sector, the government is  in an advanced stage of negotiations with GT&T with respect to transitioning to a competitive market for telecommunications services.  This is expected to result in lower communications’ costs as well as facilitate entry into the sector by other private sector investors.

At the same time, the government  is expanding e-Services and e-Enabled Services, and investing in technology to enable efficiency and transparency in the delivery of government services to your firms and to our citizens. A good example of the use of connectivity in our hinterland is the Visit Rupununi Guyana website that is operated from a Lethem office and connects all the businesses that offer tourism services. I am aware that they are working through the AML/CFT requirements to effect an online payment system, which would create more business opportunities for the region.  The private sector is not only positioned to benefit from better and more cost effective services, but also from access to investment opportunities, as government looks to partner with private capital to develop certain aspects of the service delivery infrastructure.

Mr. Chairman, turning to the cost of energy, Guyana has committed to 100% renewable energy by 2025. Work is ongoing to ensure the expansion of renewable sources of energy from solar and mini, micro and pico hydro facilities.  Further, as a transitional fuel option, the natural gas supply is being explored by the government with Exxon. Liquefied natural gas promises to be an option that can contribute to lowering fuel costs in the medium to long term.  Costs are being reviewed to determine feasibility including the possibility of a micro liquefied natural gas station and distribution via trick and barge, which may be able to extend the range of consumers to include those residing in hinterland regions. This apart, renewable energy sources remain a top priority. This year, over $200 million was allocated for a 400 kW solar farm at Mabaruma, which is expected to be operational four months after the contract is signed. The Mabaruma community enjoys a mere 8 hours of electricity per day currently; however, upon operationalization of the solar farm, residents will benefit from a 24 hour supply, using both diesel and solar sources.  This type of investment will be replicated in other communities in upcoming budgets.

It is worth noting that, of the eleven (11) measures in Budget 2017 that are aimed at promoting the green agenda, nine (9) are related to tax exemptions, tax reductions and tax holiday. This was deliberate; they were designed to make the financial considerations easier for you in determining how you incorporate green approaches in the execution of your operations. On that, I wish to heartily complement Demerara Bank and Citizen’s Bank for going completely solar in the power generation at their Camp Street locations. Kudos also go out to Nan Persaud for exemplary work, in this respect.

Mr. Chairman, while on this subject, I wish to ask of your members: How many of you, apart from those just mentioned, have taken advantage of the tax exemptions to advance your own operations using solar energy? I submit that, given the regional tax concessions to hinterland locations and the tax concessions on renewable energy infrastructure, your members would be well advise to seriously consider locating more manufacturing and services industries in those locations.  I would be excited to know which of you will be the first to establish an electric docking station or drive the first fully electric car to replace your expensive Hummer, Prado, Fortuna or other gas-guzzling vehicles. These are just a few of the innovative routes that can be explored.

All of our reforms and innovations will be best placed on the foundation of an educated population. Our government recognises that, in spite of the enormous resources that have been invested in the sector,  the education sector has failed to provide the quality of labour and entrepreneurship to drive creativity and innovation that are so badly needed across our public and private sectors. This is why is His Excellency President David Granger has recently created the Department of Education Innovation and Reform. This will include a focus on STEM to ensure greater readiness for sciences, and consideration for the inclusion of a Chemical Engineering programme at the UG to support the transformation of resources and ultimately our development.

Mr. Chairman, the private sector cannot thrive based only on government. In fact, the most innovative private sector players thrive in spite of Government.  In our manufacturing and services industry, there is much room for innovation and creativity. We live in a world where customers demand the highest quality, the latest and greenest features in the product being offered, immediate delivery, lowest prices and the best service.  

Branding of our products should allow the words “Made in Guyana” make us stand taller with pride, not shrivel in shame. Attention to the consistent achievement of quality and standards, whether we are making fudge or plantain chips or rum, must be the hallmark.  If the world recognises that we can be depended upon to deliver then that trust and reliance nationally, regionally and internationally will translate to profits. In a recent presentation to the Annual Conference of the Institute of Chartered Accountants, one of our leading CEOs Mr. Komal Samaroo, highlighted the innovative approach taken to sell what he described as formally the cheapest of spirits. He said, “When the company introduced its Eldorado Brand on the international market, it decided to go to the very top of the value chain with the launch of a 15 year Old Eldorado rum, recommended as a ‘sipping rum’ instead of a mixing rum. It was a new innovation in the rum category and it started the new trend of premiumization of a product”.  I want to be able to quote more of these examples of Guyanese producers that aim high, that recognise or create niche products, that utilise to their advantage, our geographical indications, as we establish and expand sustainable economic ventures.

I recognise that the mindset of a manufacturer or certain service providers is certainly a more long term vision than the trader who simply ‘buys and sells’. The cashflow turnaround is faster, in the case of the latter, and often it seems that there are more traders of imports than makers of exports. The investment and longer turnaround time, and testing and re-testing that is required in the world of product development, may appear daunting to those who wish an easy cash turnaround, rather than figure out the right balance of throughput, inventory and operating expenses over a longer period, while creating a unique product.  We need more of our private sector practitioners to adopt a longer term vision in the development of goods and services.

Mr. Chairman, before concluding, let me say how heartened I am by the approach being taken to engage the government in a more structured manner. In support of more effective dialogue with the GMSA, I am willing to take to Cabinet,  a proposal for three joint round tables annually, on mutually agreed agendas, involving the a sub-group of key Ministers. I am proposing a sector-focused approach, possibly starting with forestry, since you have written to me already on issues affecting that sector. This approach would support greater focus and enable us to measure our partnership through improved sector production, innovation and your own profits, as well as the targeted impact of these roundtables even as we collectively drill down to sector-specific diagnoses and solutions.

In concluding, Mr. Chairman, let me say that your successes are national successes. I, therefore, look forward to a close working relationship, in which the excellence of partnership overwhelms the flight to partisanship. Our conversations must recognise what is good for our nation, and not simply for a single producer.  Importantly, transparency and good governance must be a two-way conversation and be demanded of each other and met by both sides. The dialogue needs to be more structured, more focused and more frequent. We have to work to ensure that our engagements are both efficient and productive, which means we come to the table prepared with evidence not anecdotes.

I look forward to our future work together, as we dedicate our energies towards moving the manufacturing and services sectors to occupy larger and more sustainable shares of our country’s productive capacity.  A toast to each of you and those you represent as a collective – you are all individually and collectively important drivers in shaping the development trajectory of our country. Let us shape a nation that is diversified and resilient – one that bristles with pride when the words “Made in Guyana” are spoken, written or otherwise mentioned.

Thank you!

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