Category: Media

05 Apr
By: Tanika Jones 0

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

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

Distinguished Governors, Alternate Governors and Members of Delegation

Distinguished Invited Guests

Ladies and Gentlemen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I thank you!

Speech made by Minister of Finance, Hon. Winston Jordan on the occasion of the 43rd Annual Meeting of the Islamic Development Bank Group in Tunisia
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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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12 Mar
By: Tanika Jones 0

Opening of Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) Public Policy Analysis Management and Project Cycle Management – Face-to-Face Training Programme

The Ministry of Finance in collaboration with the CDB is hosting a 5 week training programme to improve Public Sector Project Implementation and build capacity. More than 50 technical officers, Permanent Secretaries and REO’s are targeted.

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12 Mar
By: Tanika Jones 0

International mining companies to invest millions more in Guyana

Several Canadian mining companies operating in Guyana have pledged to invest tens of millions of US dollars in expansion projects here. This announcement was made at the just concluded Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada Convention (PDAC) held in Toronto from 4-7 March, 2018.

The annual PDAC Convention is regarded as the premier international event for Canada’s mineral exploration and development industry.

Scott Caldwell, Chief Executive Officer of Guyana Goldfields Inc., the largest foreign gold mining company in Guyana, announced that the company plans to boost annual gold production to 300,000 ounces by 2022 with the introduction of underground mining. He highlighted his company’s corporate social responsibility record which includes on-going training and development of the Guyanese workforce.
Caldwell pointed out that the Government of Guyana receives eight per cent royalty of all the gold mined and added that the company’s on-going expansion augurs well for Guyana, its shareholders and stakeholders.

Guyana Goldfields Inc. has spent approximately US$50M in the local economy over the years in the areas goods and in services such as hauling of freight, engineering, and contract mining.

Rich Munson, Chief Executive Officer of Sandsprings/ETK, which has acquired the Toroparu Gold Project,said that this undertaking is the number two ranked undeveloped project in South America. The Toroparu Gold Project is described as a world class asset with a 10 million-ounce potential gold reserve.

He explained that Noting Sandsprings/ETK will in the future face a demand for about 35 megawatts of electricity when the operation is up and running and is therefore developing a hydro-electric station known as the Kurupung River Hydroelectric Project (KRHP). This station will use run-of-river technology which requires no damming. He added that his company is mindful of Guyana’s interest in hydro-electricity, and has designed the KRHP to be expanded incrementally from 50 megawatts to 100 megawatts with the aim of supplying external clients. Yannis Tsitos, President and Director of Goldsource/Kilroy Mining, indicated that his company has spent more than US$22M in exploration and development in Guyana which he described as, “an extremely good jurisdiction.” The company intends to eventually produce around one million ounces of gold, averaging between 55,000 and 75,000 ounces a year.

The Goldsource/Kilroy Mining executive who has a background in bauxite mining also spoke to investors and other mining operatives about Guyana’s high-quality bauxite which he explained yields about 62 per cent alumina when processed. “I would hope that one day Guyana can come out of the loop of being an exporter of raw bauxite by self-producing, and eventually building an alumina or even an aluminum plant,” he urged.

Minister of Finance, Hon. Winston Jordan was the featured speaker at the prestigious event. During his address, he outlined the Government of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana’s Vision and projections for the extractive sector. He also called attention to ‘the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, which were adopted by the UN General Assembly, that acknowledged inter alia, the need for environmentally sustainable economic development and stressed that 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 generates profits, creates employment and promotes economic growth.’

Minister Jordan assured the more than twenty five thousand investors, analysts, mining executives, prospectors, geologists, indigenous peoples, government officials, and students from over 125 countries participating in the Convention that ‘Guyana’s economy has achieved relatively stable economic growth consistent with the global trends’ and its ‘fiscal position has remained strong, with growing current account surpluses,’ and an ‘overall deficit (that) has been kept within sustainable levels.

He said that the ‘financial system is robust, with banks and other non- bank financial institutions being sound and adequately capitalized, Public debt levels are prudently managed while annual inflation hovers around 2 percent.’ He further said that with foreign reserves that are over 3.5 months of import cover, and no exchange controls, Guyana’s environment makes for hassle-free repatriation of profits and dividends.’
Minister Jordan lauded Guyana’s mining sector as a significant pillar of the country’s economy and the main contributor to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for the past three years as well as a major source of Foreign Direct Investment.

He noted though, that while mining in Guyana is successful, it is ‘unable to unleash its full potential’ because it is challenged by the ‘unavailability of requisite capital to local investors.’To address this challenge, he said, ‘Government is encouraging local miners to establish linkages with foreign investors and members of the Diaspora to access the necessary financing and technology while at the same time 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.

He added that mining operators are permitted to hold foreign exchange retention accounts while 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.

Minister Jordan also underscored that the‘Guyana Office for Investment is ready and ably equipped to facilitate investors and to help them navigate any bureaucracy and assured that investors are guaranteed the safety of their investment and the ease of doing business. He pointed out that Government is cognizant that a strong legal and regulatory framework is a prerequisite for the orderly and safe development of the sectorand that it has undertaken revisions to the Mining Act and Regulations which are expected to be completed and laid in the National Assembly by the end of 2018.

The Finance Minister in his address announced too, that with the recent discovery of in excess of 3.7 billion barrels of recoverable oilin 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 which could eventually reach 500,000 barrels per day by 2025, and up to 1,000,000 barrels per day by the late 2020s. He highlighted that the revenues that Guyana will earn from this discovery will have a transformative effect on the country. He further added that the Government is keen to avoid the ‘oil curse’ and thus is ‘presently 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.’

Member of Parliament in the Canadian House of Commons who is also the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade, Pamela Goldsmith-Jones, pointed to Canada’s renowned capabilities in off-shore oil and gas, and acknowledged that Guyana is a key market for Canada.

“In 2016, Guyana became Canada’s largest merchandised trading market within CARICOM because of a significant increase in gold imports to Canada…our government is committed to further strengthening our relationship with our friends and partners in Guyana,” Goldsmith Jones said.

Noting Guyana and Canada’s longstanding trade relationship, the Member of Parliament emphasised, “there’s no question that Guyana holds a promise for Canadian companies in the extractive sector, especially in mining and oil and gas, which we recognize as important to Guyana’s economy.”

Guyana’s High Commissioner to Canada, Clarissa Riehl and Canadian High Commissioner to Guyana, Lilian Chatterjee also made brief remarks.

Minister Jordan and the GO-Invest team met with the Premier and Deputy Minister of Natural Resources for Newfoundland and Labrador to discuss opportunities in mining, Oil and Gas and the Natural Resources sector in General.

Chief Executive Officer of Go-Invest Owen Verwey, following the event, said he was heartened by the tremendous interest shown in Guyana Mining Day 2018 in Toronto, noting that “Guyana is indeed being recognized as a world-class investment option for mining and natural resources.”

The event was chaired by newly appointed Guyana Consul General to Toronto, Ann Choo.Also presenting at the forum were Metallica Commodities Corporation, Goldstrike/Romanex, Guyana Women’s Mining Organization and Guyana Geology and Mines Commission.

Guyana Office for Investment
2018-03-10

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12 Mar
By: Tanika Jones 0

Guyana’s mineral resources still under-explored- Min Jordan tells PDAC 2018 Convention

Guyana’s mineral resources still under-explored- Min Jordan tells PDAC 2018 Convention
Mar 07, 2018 Government, Ministry of Finance, News

DPI, GUYANA, Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Minister of Finance Winston Jordan has extended an invitation to Guyanese in the diaspora to “come home” and tap into the under-explored mineral resources existing here.

Minister of Finance Winston Jordan- (photo courtesy of MOF).

The Minister was addressing overseas-based Guyanese and other attendees of the 2018 Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada(PDAC) convention on Tuesday in Toronto Canada.

The annual PDAC Convention which commenced on Sunday, March 4, is regarded as the premier international event for the mineral industry. It has attracted more than 25,000 people from 125 countries in recent years. It concluded today.

“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!” Minister Jordan said.

The Finance Minister said the mining sector is economically important to Guyana. As a share of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), it has accounted for approximately fifteen (15) percent at the end of 2017, with gold being the main contributor. Mining, he said, is also the major source of Foreign Direct Investment into the country, accounting for approximately twenty- five percent of the total amount.

According to Minister Jordan, one of the main reasons why the sector is unable to unleash its full potential is the unavailability of the requisite capital to local investors. To address this challenge, he said the Government is encouraging local miners to establish linkages with foreign investors and members of the Diaspora to access the necessary financing and technology.

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, while 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,” Minister Jordan said.

By: Alexis Rodney

Source

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06 Mar
By: ict 0

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

 

Salutation

 

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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