Highlights

Senior Finance Minister tables FMAA Bill to streamline Budget process of Constitutional Agencies while preserving their independence

-to prescribe manner in which Constitutional Agencies’ budgets are approved and withdrawals made from Consolidated Fund among other adjustments

Georgetown, Ministry of Finance, December 13, 2021: -An Amendment to the Fiscal Management and Accountability Act (FMAA) to ensure further streamlining of the budget process in relation to Constitutional Agencies was today tabled in the National Assembly by Senior Minister in the Office of the President with responsibility for Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh.

The Bill seeks to amend the FMAA Act Chapter 73:02 for the purpose of ‘prescribing the manner in which budgets are approved and withdrawals are made from the Consolidated Fund in respect of Constitutional Agencies’. Additionally, the amendment aims to ensure accountability and sets out the practice and procedure to which these Constitutional Agencies must conform in the management of their subventions for the efficient discharge of their functions.

The amendments are necessary as they serve to streamline the Budget process particularly in relation to constitutional agencies while simultaneously ensuring the preservation of the independence of the agencies.

The Bill intends to include amendments such as an amendment to section 15 of the FMAA to require that an annual budget proposed to include a motion in compliance with article 218 and 222 A of the Constitution.

Meanwhile, another amendment seeks to amend section 40 e of the Audit Act to provide for the presentation of the Audit Office Budget.

In January last, Minister Singh had tabled a motion for an amendment to the Fiscal Management and Accountability (Amendment) Act 2021 seeking to amend the FMAA Chapter 73:02 to allow for the correction of a number of anomalies relating to the budget process applicable to constitutional agencies.

Arising from the 2015 amendment to the FMAA by the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance for Change (APNU/AFC), constitutional agencies’ budgets were required to be sent to the National assembly in advance of the submission of the rest of the National Budget. This two-stage process resulted in a fragmented and inefficient process for consideration of the National Budget and denied the Parliament an opportunity to view and consider the budget in a comprehensive manner.

 

Senior Finance Minister congratulates CDB on milestone attained

-as BNTF launches 10th Cycle, US$30.5 M to be allocated across 9 Participating Countries

Georgetown, Ministry of Finance, December 13, 2021: During the opening ceremony today for the virtual launch of Basic Needs Trust Fund’s (BNTF) 10 th Cycle under the theme ‘Reducing the incidence of poverty and building resilience, through an inclusive community development approach’, Senior Finance Minister Dr. Ashni Singh while delivering remarks, first congratulated the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) on the milestone achieved of serving the Caribbean Region for 42 years as he alluded to some of the work the Fund, under the auspices of the Bank has done in the region. The Minister also commended the Bank for its commitment to the continuity of BNTF and for securing funds to continue the programme.

“BNTF was created with the express purpose of poverty-reduction, and it quickly became well known as the Bank’s flagship poverty reduction initiative. Over the past four decades, interventions have provided access to improved social infrastructure including markets, health posts, resource centres and schools; provided first time access to potable water; improved roads, bridges and footpaths; and provided certified skills-training aimed at enhancing employability and income generation. BNTF initiatives have impacted us all regionally, nationally and most importantly our peoples at the grass roots level,” Dr. Singh posited.

The Minister highlighted the fact that as of February 2017, through the first eight BNTF Programme cycles, over 2,750 sub-projects were implemented to directly impact the lives of more than 3 million people across the region. He noted however that there still remains a number of challenges in spite of these accomplishments.

“Our Region continues to face a vast multitude of development challenges, some longstanding and others new. These include most immediately the COVID-19 pandemic, which has compounded the pre- existing challenges such as climate change vulnerabilities, infrastructure gaps including in such catalytic areas as transport and energy infrastructure, food security issues, global competitiveness and gender equality amongst others. These are issues that pose challenges to our Governments and the Bank. Despite these hurdles, we as Participating Countries have worked diligently to maintain macroeconomic stability, jumpstart our respective economies, deliver national objectives and improve the circumstances of our people, “the Senior Finance Minister said.

Further outlining other accomplishments and challenges faced in Education, Water Access and Sanitization, Basic Community Accessing and Drainage and Human Resource Development (HRD) and Livelihoods, Dr. Singh noted that under the 10th Cycle the CDB will continue to invest and focus on these sectors across 9 Participating Countries.

Also speaking at the event President of the CDB, Dr. Hyginus ‘Gene’ Leon alluded to the CDB’s focus on ensuring that its development discussions center on how the BNTF can strengthen its programme to enhance development outcomes especially given the recent setbacks from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This pandemic has underscored our challenges yet to be resolved, can amplify the impact of shocks that are outside of our control. At the same time, it begs the question of how much more amplification can arise from future shocks if we do not address the compound layering of the impact of COVID-19 and the structural weaknesses that existed before COVID-19. I refer to the poverty, inequality, health and education, economic concentration, low access to affordable financing and inadequate infrastructure challenges of today and the future challenge arising from Climate Change,” Dr. Leon explained.

The CDB President also noted that the launch was quite timely in terms of the end of year period during which it was occurring.

“It is coincidental but quite fitting that this launch is taking place during the Christmas season when focus is on how best to bring hope and goodwill to a world that remains mired in significant economic, social and environmental challenges,” he emphasized.

A total of 30.5 million USD has been allocated under the 10th cycle across the 9 Participating Countries to implement sub-projects. Interventions will be tailored to empower the poor and vulnerable and strengthen institutional development by integrating SDGs and cross-cutting areas such as gender quality and environmental sustainability.

Guyana began receiving Country Project grants from CDB’s Third Programme in 1993 and has continued to benefit consistently throughout the programmes. Minister Singh concluded that BNTF in Guyana has been a success and the benefits and rewards through the many interventions in community development and the provision of basic needs to citizens, particularly in rural and hinterland areas, are undeniable. He noted too that looking forward, Guyana intends to build on the lessons learnt and successes from the previous programmes in line with national priorities.

CDB's Basic Needs Trust Fund (BNTF) has for over 40 years invested more than $300 million to fight poverty and improve the quality of life in the poorest communities in the Caribbean.

Finance Minister congratulates Teleperformance BPO on 5th anniversary

Over 1200 new jobs created by BPO sector since August 2020

Georgetown, Ministry of Finance, December 6, 2021: -As Government continues to recognize the tremendous potential of the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) industry and its important role in the economic landscape of Guyana, Senior Finance Minister, Dr. Ashni K. Singh today attended and delivered the feature address at Teleperformance’s 5th Anniversary ceremony at the Pegasus Hotel where he highlighted that the BPO industry currently employs 4,135 persons, an increase of 1,229 new jobs for Guyanese country-wide when compared to August 2020.

The Minister met with Teleperformance’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Luis Baretto and pledged the Government’s continued support to the development of the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) Industry in Guyana, recognising Information and Communication Technology (ICT) as key to building an economy for the future and also as an enabler for job- creation. The Minister was accompanied by CEO of the Guyana Office for Investment, Dr. Peter Ramsaroop.

Teleperformance’s CEO Luis Baretto during his presentation, detailed the history and the expansion plans of Teleperformance Guyana, the parent company being the global leader in the BPO industry. Teleperformance currently employs 1200 persons in Guyana (up from 846 employees in August 2020, 50 percent of whom work remotely) and plans to create an additional 1000 new jobs in 2022. Teleperformance’s recipe for success is built on high technology, including reliable and redundant Informational Technology architecture and the company’s focus is on ‘hiring the right people along with continuous training and development’.

During the ceremony, on behalf of President Ali and the Government, Dr. Singh congratulated the efforts of Teleperformance Guyana, even as the country continues to combat the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. He also welcomed the projected expansion plans of the company, including its plan to add approximately 1000 new jobs by the end of 2022, with the possibility of even more jobs as the company explores options for a second facility.

The PPP/C Government has recognised the tremendous potential of the BPO sector and its important role in the economic landscape of Guyana as well as information communications and other technology being key to building an economy for the future and assisting in the efficient delivery of public services. In addition, ICT is a primary employer including through the provision of high value BPO services for the global market place, as well as promoting digital innovation in all sectors. Minster Singh posited that since August 2020, over 1200 jobs have been created in the BPO industry in Guyana.

Dr. Singh expressed his satisfaction that Teleperformance, the global leader in the BPO industry recognised Guyana’s unique advantages and competitiveness as a destination for BPO businesses, including a highly educated workforce, strategic geographic location and the county being a native English-speaking one.

While welcoming Teleperformance’s expansion plans in Guyana and the Caribbean, Minister Singh also urged the company to expand its regional footprint to areas such as Linden, Berbice and Essequibo. Teleperformance has adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic both globally and here in Guyana, where employees who work from home account for 50 percent of total employees. This not only creates employment in hard-to-reach areas, but also facilitates employment of persons who, due to domestic circumstances, cannot attend a physical office set-up. It also lays the ground work for the development of the resource pool in new areas/ regions where new expansion is planned.

Government has expressed its intention to continue to work closely to build and support the BPO industry, creating the necessary enabling environment and improve the ease of doing business. Immediately after assuming office, the Government liberalized the telecommunications sector, leading to increased competition and resulting in some price reductions for data and calling charges. The PPP/C government has also been working diligently to expand the ICT infrastructure and plans to continue to invest in ICT education.

EU-Ministry of Finance discuss cooperation programme

Senior Finance Minister Dr. Ashni Singh recently met with European Union (EU) Ambassador to Guyana Dr. Fernando Ponz Cantó at the Arthur Chung Convention Centre where the two officials co-chaired an important Policy Dialogue focused on EU-Guyana Development Cooperation. The meeting was a successful step towards further cooperation achievements for the benefit of Guyana’s citizens with discussions focused on the EU’s development cooperation programme with Guyana. The EU and Guyana have an increasingly close partnership, based on common values, objectives and interests covering all matters of mutual interest.

While addressing the meeting, Minister Singh placed on record the strong appreciation of the Government for the EU’s sustained support to Guyana over the years. He also expressed optimism that the strong relationship that Guyana and the EU enjoy will continue to grow in the years ahead as Guyana traverses this new phase in its economic history.

Ambassador Fernando Ponz Cantó pledged the European Union's continued commitment to the EU- Guyana partnership as Guyana advances its development agenda as a new and emerging oil and gas producer. The Ambassador recalled the determination and resilience of the Guyanese people to preserve democratic norms and the rule of law. In particular, he commended the Government and the National Authorising Officer (NAO) for re-establishing this bi-lateral policy dialogue which had been absent during 2020 due to the political crisis and related events, and which is a fundamental element in the full normalization of cooperation including budget support.

Minister Singh then further reaffirmed Government's appreciation for the EU budget support Programme.

The two delegations held wide-ranging discussions that focused on the Government's ongoing investment Programme in the sea and river defense sector, including Mangroves. Both were key areas that underpin EU support over the last decades.

Additionally, Dr. Ashni Singh and the EU Ambassador held preliminary discussion on a new Technical Cooperation Facility valued at €2.73M in which Guyana will benefit from support for the implementation and development of policies to mitigate the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Possible areas of support include health, livelihood development, biodiversity, forestry, governance and public financial management. The EU team also comprised Mr. Karel Lizerot, Head of Cooperation, and other members of the EU Delegation while the Ministry of Finance’s team included Mr. Tarachand Balgobin, Deputy National Authorising Officer (DNAO).

The EU Delegation in Guyana was established in December 1972 and is responsible for taking forward the EU-Guyana partnership including political, development, and socioeconomic relations, trade, and other major policy areas, based on solid human, cultural and historical links.

Senior Finance Minister hosts series of follow-up meetings with UAE on investment opportunities in various sectors

Special focus being placed on tourism, agriculture and other sectors

Georgetown, Ministry of Finance, November 2, 2021: Senior Finance Minister Dr. Ashni K. Singh today hosted a virtual follow-up meeting between Mr. Maan Halabi, Managing Director of the Al Habtoor Group LLC located in Abu Dhabi, the capital city of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce Oneidge Walrond along with Guyanese private sector representatives. The meeting took place in the Boardroom of the Ministry of Finance and formed part of a series of meetings hosted by Dr. Singh recently as a follow-up to meetings first held in Dubai during a visit by President Irfaan Ali and a team of Government Ministers. The Guyanese Government officials had travelled to that country to attend the Dubai 2020 Exposition.

The Al Habtoor Group is one of the UAE's most respected and successful businesses that provides engineering and construction services but also operates in the hospitality, automotive, real estate, education and publishing sectors with vast investments in tourism. During President Ali’s visit to Dubai, the Al Habtoor Group had expressed interest in expanding its global footprint in the tourism properties market. As such, Government continues to court the group into taking up available investment opportunities in the hotel and resort industry here or partnering with local private sector investors to expand the industry. Today’s meeting allowed for the discussion of investment opportunities in these areas.

Dr. Singh noted that there is a wide range of opportunities for the Group to invest in Guyana, particularly in the tourism sector. These include greenfield investments in new flagship hotel projects, partnerships with existing investors currently developing hotel projects, and establishment of large-scale nature-based tourist resorts. He further indicated that the tourism sector is poised for rapid expansion in Guyana and is therefore attractive to international investors like the Al Habtoor Group which already has a global footprint of premium flagship hotels worldwide.

“The tourism industry in Guyana even before the COVID-19 period had started to gain international acclaim recognition especially for eco-tourism. With the advent of the oil and gas sector and that attention, we also began seeing increased interest with just visitors and businesses for the oil and gas sector so one of the good problems that we have so far in Guyana is that we have the need for good quality rooms, “Minister Walrond explained to Mr. Halabi.

She further noted that within a month of Government being in office, expressions of interest were sent out for internationally-branded hotels to be built in the country since one of Guyana’s premier hotels-the Marriott- is currently fully booked out until January 2022.

Noting that there has already been sod-turning for a number of new additional hotels, with two having taken place close to the Timehri International Airport, the Tourism Minister added that Government will soon send out expressions of interest for luxury-branded eco-tourism facilities within the eco-tourism industry as it hopes to have at least 2000 hotel rooms available for visitors to the country.

Meanwhile, former President of the Guyana Tourism and Hospitality Association of Guyana (THAG) Mitra Ramkumar said he believes that the tourism industry in Guyana had already taken off even before the advent of oil and gas, adding that this country can learn much from the UAE on how its tourism industry can be a spin-off from the oil and gas sector especially since Guyana has pristine rainforests, a diversity of people, beauty and nature as well as vast lands for development and investment and as such, further investment can catapult its success.

It was only on Friday last that Minister Singh hosted another meeting between His Excellency Ahmed Bin Sulayem, Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC) and his team and Guyana’s Ministers of Agriculture, Zulfikar Mustapha, Natural Resources, Vickram Bharrat and Tourism, Industry and Commerce, Oneidge Walrond, along with other private sector key stakeholders within the Agriculture and Gold and Diamond mining sectors in Guyana.

At that meeting on Friday last, the teams indicated to the DMCC that Guyana has the capacity for the large-scale production of many agricultural commodities such as soya bean, ginger, corn, rice, coconuts, eddoes, cassava and plantains which can be exported to Dubai. It was emphasized that with Dubai being a major global commodity trading hub, Guyana stands to gain access to wider markets for its products. Meanwhile, other investment opportunities were noted, such as those in the forestry and mining sectors.

Upon hearing about these investment opportunities, DMCC then expressed interest in learning more about Guyana’s agricultural and mining potential including commodities such as coffee, cocoa and rare earth minerals. The Guyanese representatives from both the public and private sectors thereby noted that now is the opportune time for Guyana’s abundant resources to be transformed into wealth for the prosperity of all citizens.

Cabinet Grants ‘No-Objection’ to Amaila Falls Hydropower Project (AFHP) and the New Demerara Harbour Bridge (NDHB)

Amaila Falls Hydropower Project (AFHP)

Cabinet, at its most recent meeting, has granted its ‘no objection’ for the Office of the Prime Minister to engage China Railway Group Limited to construct the Amaila Falls Hydropower Project (AFHP) based on a Build-Own-Operate-Transfer (BOOT) model where the company will supply electricity to the Guyana Power and Light (GPL) Inc. at a cost not exceeding US$0.07737 per KWH and where the company will provide the entire equity required by the project and undertake all the risks associated with the project.

This follows the publication of a request for proposals by Government in various national newspapers during the period July 25 to August 15, 2021. A total of four companies submitted proposals, and China Railway Group Limited was identified as the most ‘capable partner’ by the Evaluation Committee after a rigorous evaluation process, following which the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB) submitted the relevant recommendation to Cabinet for ‘no objection’.

The AFHP was first identified in 1976 by the Canadian company “Monenco’ during an extensive survey of hydroelectric power potential in Guyana. Various studies have since justified and strongly supported the construction of the AFHP. Recognizing the suitability and attractiveness of the project, the pre-2015 PPP/C Government had advanced preparation of AFHP by conducting extensive technical and financial studies of the project, including an environmental and social impact assessment (ESIA). The then PPP/C Government had also mobilized international investor interest in the project, and a major private international investor (the Blackstone Group) had expressed serious interest in undertaking the project. Additionally, the then Government had earmarked US$80 million earned by Guyana under the Guyana-Norway partnership within the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) to help finance equity in the project.

These efforts to advance the project were blocked and derailed by the then APNU/AFC Opposition, who voted against the project in the National Assembly. The APNU/AFC later maintained their opposition to the project when they assumed office in 2015 and failed to offer any alternative to the project. This was despite the fact that the APNU/AFC Government in 2016, with support from Norway, hired an independent consultant (Norconsult) to review the project. The report, published in December 2016, recommended the development of AFHP as the best option for Guyana to achieve affordable, low-carbon electricity.

Consistent with a commitment given by the PPP/C to resume work to advance this project in the Party’s 2020 manifesto, on the basis of which the Party was elected to office in 2020, this Government has resumed efforts to realize this flagship project under the new and expanded LCDS. In its current formulation, it is expected that the project will require no equity contribution from Government, in comparison with the previous project structure which was based on a Government contribution of US$100 million. Additionally, the current structure anticipates a cost of power that will be lower than the initial cost of 11 cents per KWH contemplated by the previous project structure.

The AFHP will lower the cost of electricity needed to power Guyana’s economic diversification and transformation into a low carbon economy, as well as reduce the cost of power to the businesses and households. The project will also support initiatives such as the electrification of transport and e-mobility and accelerate the development of a robust ICT sector needed for an interconnected world as well as a competitive manufacturing sector.

The New Demerara Harbour Bridge (NDHB)

At the same meeting, Cabinet also granted its no-objection for the Ministry of Public Works (MoPW) to engage China State Construction Engineering Corporation Ltd. to construct the New Demerara Harbour Bridge (NDHB) based on a Design-Build-Finance (DBF) model with financial terms and conditions which would be no less favorable than those submitted in the preferred bidder’s price proposals. The proposal by China State Construction Engineering Corporation Ltd under the DBF model contemplates a construction cost of US$256.6 million, the lowest amongst all bidders.

Initially, the Government of Guyana, through the MoPW, pre-qualified nine (9) firms to submit bids for the construction of a two-lane dual carriageway (4 lanes) hybrid Cable-Stayed center span bridge with Concrete Box/T Beam Girder approach bridge structure with the following inclusions:

  • Bridge collision protection.
    • Navigation span to accommodate Handymax vessel Navigation aids.
    • Lighting, signage, and all other ancillary works.
    • Access road with a minimum of 50 meters up to abutments.
    • Toll collection buildings and ancillary buildings on the West Bank of the Demerara River.

The pre-qualified firms were invited to submit bids to construct the bridge using a Design-Build-Finance (D- B-F) contract and Design-Build-Finance-Operate-Maintain (D-B-F-O-M) contract. At the pre-bid meeting, held on June 28, 2021, it was agreed that the closing date for submission of bids would be October 5, 2021. Only five of the pre-qualified bidders submitted bids, of which four (4) obtained the required minimum score for the technical proposal. The Evaluation Committee recommended that the Procuring Entity engage China State Construction Engineering Corporation Ltd. using the Design-Build-Finance (DBF) model on financing terms and conditions no less favourable than those proposed by the highest ranked bidder. The NPTAB subsequently submitted the recommendation to Cabinet, and Cabinet granted its ‘no objection’.

The NDHB comprises a critical component of the Government’s drive to expand and modernize Guyana’s transport infrastructure. It aims to replace the aging Demerara Harbour Bridge with a modern four-lane structure that will facilitate greater traffic capacity and dramatically improve commuter convenience. The new bridge will offer easy connectivity to both the existing East Bank Demerara road as well as the new Diamond to Ogle bypass on the eastern side of the River and to the existing West Bank Demerara Road and the new Parika to Schoonord Road on the western side of the River. The new bridge will also offer critical connectivity to the new Wales Development Authority which will be a major centre of productive activity when it comes on stream.

Finance Minister Meets Mubadala – UAE Sovereign Investment Vehicle – as Guyana’s participation in Dubai World Expo Continues

Georgetown, Ministry of Finance, October 20, 2021: Senior Finance Minister Dr. Ashni Singh and a group of Guyanese private sector representatives met earlier today with Mubadala, the sovereign wealth investment company within the United Arab Emirates. The Mubadala delegation was led by Mr. Musabbeh Al Kaabi, Chief Executive Officer of UAE Investments. The meeting took place at Mubadala’s headquarters in Abu Dhabi, on the margins of Guyana’s participation in World Expo 2020 currently being held in Dubai, at which Guyana’s delegation is led by His Excellency the President Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali.

During the meeting with Mubadala, Minister Singh and the Guyanese delegation reiterated the rapid economic transformation that is currently underway in Guyana, and highlighted a number of sectors that are poised for immediate growth and that are therefore ripe with investment opportunities. These include: the oil and gas sector which is poised to exceed one million barrels a day before the end of the decade; non-oil extractives such as gold, bauxite, manganese, and other minerals, with a number of international large scale operations already set to ramp up their production plans in the near term; tourism and hospitality including new and emerging sub-sectors such as the development of cruise ship facilities as well as yachting marinas; world class medical and educational facilities, including to provide medical care and education as services for export; as well as information and communications technology and others. Minister Singh also alluded to the several characteristics that make Guyana one of the most rapidly growing economies of the world and one of the most attractive destinations for investment globally under the leadership of President Irfaan Ali.

The Mubadala team welcomed the information shared by Minister Singh and the delegation on the Guyanese economy and associated investment opportunities in Guyana, sought various clarifications which were addressed by the Guyanese team, and signaled interest in advancing discussions in a number of specific areas. The two sides committed to advance these discussions as appropriate.

Mubadala is a $243 billion (UAE Dirhams 894 billion) business that spans six continents with interests across multiple sectors and asset classes. Headquartered in Abu Dhabi, Mubadala also has offices in London, Rio de Janeiro, Moscow, New York, San Francisco and Beijing. The UAE Investments platform within Mubadala contributes to the acceleration of the UAE’s economic transformation, and investing in national world class champions, fostering vibrant industrial and commercial clusters, and partnering with world-class global entities.

The Guyanese delegation’s participation in Dubai Expo continued during today and will continue tomorrow with a number of engagements set between the Guyanese representatives and representatives of both UAE Government agencies as well as private sector entities all with the aim of fostering closer economic ties and promoting accelerated economic growth.

Government Announces Further Cut in Excise Tax on Fuel – Prices at Pump expected to reduce

Georgetown, Ministry of Finance, October 6, 2021: Senior Minister in the Office of the President with Responsibility for Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh, today announced that Government will be further reducing the excise tax on gasoline and diesel to ease the domestic impact of the continuous rise in the world market price for fuel.

It could be recalled that on February 17 of this year, the Government reduced the Excise Tax rate on both gasoline and diesel from 50 percent to 35 percent. Since this time, oil prices have continued to rise steadily on the world market, moving from over US$60 a barrel to over US$80 a barrel at close of trade on October 5, 2021. This steady rise in the world price has had a resultant effect with prices rising on the domestic market also.

Minister Singh announced today that the Government will be lowering the excise tax rate on both gasoline and diesel from 35 percent to 20 percent with immediate effect. This reduction will aid in cushioning the impact on domestic consumers, particularly the travelling public as well as those productive sectors for whom fuel is an important input.

The prices at the pump are expected to also be reduced with immediate effect, with gasoline prices expected to reduce from $213 per litre to $198 per litre, and diesel prices from $200 per litre to $185 per litre.

Minister Singh explained that the adjustment in the excise tax rate on fuel from time to time is part of the measures that the PPP/C Government will implement to cushion the domestic impact of world market price fluctuation. He emphasized that implementation of these measures are in keeping with President Irfaan Ali’s commitment to ensuring that Guyanese consumers continue to be protected from escalation in fuel prices on the world market as far as possible.

Guyana’s economy grew by 14.5 percent in first half of 2021, non-oil economy by 4.8 percent, despite COVID-19 and May/June Floods

2021 Mid-Year Report reveals

Georgetown, Ministry of Finance, October 5, 2021: The Ministry of Finance’s Mid-Year Report for 2021 has indicated that Guyana recorded real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth of 14.5 percent while non-oil GDP grew by 4.8 percent, despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and even the devastating floods experienced in May-June.

Due to the unprecedented floods which impacted particularly the agriculture, forestry and mining sectors, along with the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the effects of which will spill over into the last half of the year and even beyond, the revised full-year forecast for real GDP growth in 2021 is now 19.5 percent overall and 3.7 percent for the non-oil economy.

The Mid-Year Report is expected to be tabled by Senior Minister of Finance Dr. Ashni Singh at the first sitting of the National Assembly once the Assembly resumes after its current recess.

Sector Performance

With regard to sector performance, the agriculture, forestry and fishing industries for the first half of 2021 are estimated to have contracted by 2.4 percent compared with a decline of 4.1 percent for the corresponding period last year and it was noted that this was as a result of lower output from the other crops, sugar growing, forestry and fishing industries.

“At the end of the first half of the year, the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GUYSUCO) produced 29,650 tonnes of sugar. This performance reflects the record high levels of rainfall, which resulted in waterlogged soils, particularly at the Albion Estate, and strike action that resulted in over 5,600 man-days being lost,” the Mid-Year Report indicated. As such, it was emphasized that the sugar industry declined by 22.4 percent when compared to the same period in 2020. Some of the reasons indicated were a 30 percent mortality of mature cane at Albion estate, 10 percent at Uitvlugt and 5 percent at Blairmont due to the floods. Another 15,000 tonnes of sugar in the second crop were also expected to be lost, based on the Report.

Meanwhile, the Report noted that the rice industry grew by an estimated 7.8 percent in the first half of the year, marginally lower than the target set for the period, ‘other crops’ declined by 7.3 percent due to the floods and the livestock industry was estimated to have grown by 10.6 percent when compared to the same period in 2020. However, for that same period, the fishing industry contracted by an estimated 6.6 percent and the forestry industry by 7.1 percent.

Referencing the extractive industries, the Report indicated that in the first half of 2021 the mining and quarrying industries were estimated to have grown by 23.1 percent, with higher output from the petroleum and other mining industries despite contractions in gold and bauxite.

It was noted that total output from the petroleum sector increased by 65.4 percent when compared to the same period last year. With respect to diamond, sand and stone, these were estimated to have seen a total growth of 63.3 percent with quarry stone having a growth output of 141 percent, sand declarations growing by 119.3 percent as a result of increased activity in the construction sector while diamond declarations improved with a growth of 166.3 percent. The outlook for the remainder of this year for other mining industries was estimated to be promising as well with an estimated growth rate of 74.5 percent for the entire year.

With regard to manufacturing, this sector notably saw an estimated growth of 13.1 percent when compared to the same period last year with expansion of the sector being attributed to a growth of 23.1 percent in other manufacturing. In the category of other manufacturing, growth was experienced in the manufacturing of non-metallic products, chemical products and beverages.

Meanwhile, the services industries were estimated to have expanded in the first half of 2021 by 9.4 percent when compared to the same period in 2020 as it was noted that the measures to curtail the impact of COVID-19 would have severely impacted such activities last year. Notably, the Report indicates that the gradual relaxation of these measures would have contributed to some growth in the sector.

The Report also noted the strong performance of the construction sector which grew by 25.5 percent in the first half of 2021, reflecting increased emphasis on implementing the public sector investment programme as well as increased private sector construction reflecting improved private sector confidence and optimism regarding the economic outlook.

Balance of Payments – Larger Merchandise Trade Surplus

The Mid-Year Report noted that at the end of the first half of this year, ‘the overall balance of payments recorded a deficit of US$67.4 million compared with a deficit of US$2.8 million at the end of June 2020’ with the current account registering a deficit of US$39.1 million in comparison to a deficit of US$396.5 million for the corresponding period in 2020. This was attributed to a ‘significant increase in the merchandise trade surplus which moved from US$72.7 million, to US$813.3 million. The merchandise trade account, according to the Report, improved as a result of export receipts expanding by US$786.9 million, outweighing the US$46.2 million increase in imports.

Meanwhile, the capital account showed a deficit of US$19.6 million when compared with a surplus of US$419.7 million at the end of June 2020, attributed to ‘outflows of US$1,713 million from private enterprises in the oil and gas sector along with outflows of US$123.6 million in revenue from the petroleum sector to the Natural Resource Fund’. The Report also highlighted the fact that foreign direct investment in the first half of 2021 was 41.6 percent higher than the US$940.6 million recorded last year for the same period.

Inflation

At the end of the first half of 2021, consumer prices grew by 5.6 percent. This was largely driven by increased food prices, as a result of the inclement weather and shortages experienced following the flood. Further, the Report indicated that the bottlenecks in the global supply chain adds some measure of imported inflationary pressures. However, the Report underscores, that the price increases are ‘transitory’ and are unlikely to have lasting long-term impact on inflation’. Inflation is now projected to be in the order of 3.8 percent for the full year.

One of the Fastest Growing Economies

Earlier this year Senior Finance Minister Dr. Ashni Singh had indicated that Guyana would be one of the fastest growing economies in terms of real GDP and would see rapid transformation in a number of sectors especially since Government would make efforts to boost the non-oil economy as well.

“We’re anticipating a rapid expansion in the services sector, including transport and logistics, construction of infrastructure including roads, bridges, office buildings in the private sector, etc, along with expansion in other services such as financial services, all of which will contribute to rapid expansion in real output. So, you’re going to see Guyana being one of the fastest growing economies in real GDP terms…. globally in the hemisphere and certainly in the Caribbean… a lot of the real GDP growth in the region will be driven by Guyana,” he had emphasized.

The favorable economic performance at the end of the first half of 2021 in the non-oil economy bodes well for the upcoming second half of 2021 and beyond. It is expected that advances in key investments, both in the public and the private sector, will buttress the second half performance of the economy.

 

 

250 jobs for Linden as Government inks MOU with Midas BPO to re-establish Call-Centre

Georgetown, Ministry of Finance, September 24, 2021: As Government continues in its efforts to ensure that employment is increased throughout the country, Senior Finance Minister Dr. Ashni K. Singh today participated in a ceremony in Linden, Region Ten which saw a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) being signed between the Guyana Office for Investment (Go-Invest) and Midas Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) Inc. for the expansion of the BPO to the Mining Town.

With the expansion of the business to that Region, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Midas, Malcolm Sobers explained that 50 to 75 persons would be recruited by October 1 while by year- end that number would increase to 150, then further moved to 250 by June 2022. He noted that the company would commence the recruitment process for employees from within the town immediately after the signing ceremony. In fact, it was observed that a large number of young persons had already gathered outside the building enthusiastically waiting with applications in hand.

The Guyanese businessman said he was also ecstatic that he was able to expand to Linden to assist in creating jobs and expressed his intention to have his business expand to other Regions. He further expressed his appreciation to especially the Senior Finance Minister and Go-Invest’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Dr. Peter Ramsaroop as he explained that the officials were quick to respond to his business- expansion need and showed serious commitment to the BPO industry. Sobers recalled that 17 years ago he attempted to commence his own operations in Guyana but was unsuccessful while four years ago, when he made another attempt, no one responded to his expressed interest. He concluded that it was a dream realized for him to see his business grow in the manner it has.

During his remarks prior to the signing, Minister Singh said that Sobers’ success story is one which could be emulated by each new employee who came to work at Midas. He emphasized that Sobers’ journey as a young Call-Centre agent who moved up to higher positions in the BPO industry within twenty years, to now being a proprietor, is a success story for many young persons who may be considering the industry as a serious one for career-advancement.

Dr. Singh then alluded to the People’s Progressive Party/ Civic’s (PPP/C’s) commitment to Information Communications Technology (ICT) and recalled that the focus on this started since under former President Jagdeo’s tenure.

“I had the privilege of being associated with the early efforts to bring the sector to Guyana. In those days the President of Guyana was President Jagdeo who saw the remarkable potential of technology-based industries to transform the economic landscape of Guyana and who saw the remarkable potential of technology-based solutions to creating jobs in Guyana, and President Jagdeo at the time very enthusiastically and aggressively promoted Information Communications Technology,” the Minister reminded.

“Today the fruits of those efforts are now being harvested under President Irfaan Ali’s tenure,” he added.

Quoting from the PPP/C’s 2020 manifesto, Minister Singh said the event symbolized Government’s promise to Guyanese of using “ICT as an enabler for jobs-creation” and he repeated the portion of the manifesto to attendees which states, “The ICT sector, if properly incentivized, can generate thousands of new jobs through co-investment, providing infrastructure support, state-sponsored training, and employment opportunities for the disabled.”

Minister Singh then highlighted the several other steps being taken by the PPP/C Government to promote the development of the ICT sector in Guyana, including the liberalization of the telecommunications sector and investment in ICT education.

Also speaking at the event was PPP/C’s representative for Region Ten, Minister of Public Works, Bishop Juan Edghill who said that Government is serious about its commitment to the Region and will continue to prove this through its efforts to catapult development in not only ICT and job- creation, but also in infrastructure, housing and social services, as he alluded to the works currently being done on the Linden-Mabura Road and housing for young professionals.

“This is not a stand-alone activity that we are celebrating. This is part of a suite of measures that are being made to bring real development to Linden and Region Ten,” Minister Edghill reiterated.

It was only last month that the Senior Finance Minister visited Midas’ Headquarters located in New Market Street, Georgetown, where he lauded the efforts of Mr. Sobers on pursuing his vision, which had materialized into the successful BPO facility that only commenced operations in August 2020 but has since allowed for the employment of 330 Guyanese. The businessman had noted then that his business was heading towards expansion in Guyana. The event was proof that he meant business.