Category: Speeches

03 Feb
By: Tanika Jones 1

Opening Address by Hon. Winston Jordan, Minister of Finance on the occasion of Training Course/Capacity Building in Macroeconomic Management for Resource Rich Countries Feb 3-7, 2020

3rd February 2020

Good morning participants, IMF expert trainers and invitees. 

It is certainly a pleasure to finally have the IMF team here this morning to deliver this programme, in country, on Macroeconomic Management for Resource Rich Countries. This was identified as useful, as we approached first oil. Rather than sending 2-3 persons, annually, to attend the course at IMF Headquarters, in Washington, DC, we consider that the impact of having a core 35-40 persons exposed together, at home, would certainly redound to more effective national capacity building and institutional strengthening in strategic technical areas of the Ministry of Finance, Bank of Guyana, and other key sector ministries and stakeholders. 

I hope the collective thinking that is inspired by the content of this course leads, subsequently, to well- researched and thought-out technical advice from those of you here today. Indeed, the content of this programme is intended to elevate the level of thinking, discourse and analysis among the key technical agencies that contribute to compiling key macroeconomic fundamentals in the economy. Today, I am pleased to note that we have expanded our invitation to include the Bank of Guyana, the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, the Department of Energy and Ministries of Natural Resources and Agriculture. These are reflective of agencies that play key roles in designing the programmes and projects that are instrumental to the diversification efforts and institutional strengthening that must be undertaken with haste, to ensure that we are able to mitigate the detrimental impact of Dutch disease and resource curse.

Human capacity building is a critical determinant within the formula for institutional strengthening. Our ability to better conceptualise and analyse the world in which we now find ourselves, and to critically apply that knowledge to advancing informed policy proposals, thereby contributing to the macro economic stability of our country, must become part of our everyday thinking. Without competent and capable human capital, our institutions will fail to deliver as required.

Being able to contribute to development, requires us to design programmes in ways that are not inimical to macroeconomic stability. We must be able to recognize the actions the country needs to adopt, for example, to contain inflation and maintain a stable exchange rate, non-achievement of which can undermine our competitiveness in the non-oil sector. We must be conscious about the impact of the elements that contribute to Dutch disease and resource curse as a nation.

Even as we are undertaking the rebasing of the gross national product (GDP), it is anticipated that improved methodologies would improve our ability to capture growth in the economy.  Additionally, much has been said about the substantial growth spike that we expect from the inclusion of petroleum – those of you who are economists know that a GDP number does not automatically translate to improved livelihood for all our citizens. Indeed, this is why we have long argued for developing countries to have a multi-dimensional measurement of development, given the inadequacies of GDP as an indicator of development and equity.

History is replete with examples which demonstrate how per capita GDP increases do not translate to improved quality of life.  These exemplify the consequences of both institutional weaknesses, weak resource governance structures, and the collective behaviour of the citizenry that, collectively, have worked to exacerbate the resource curse and Dutch disease. We have an opportunity to do better and to distinguish ourselves as a country that can learn from the experiences of others, and exercise greater responsibility to allow both present and future generations to be beneficiaries of good governance. This administration has taken deliberate steps to avoid the presource curse – where several countries have spent funds long before first oil, in anticipation of future revenues. We chose to be prudent in our expenditure management. Further, through the establishment of the Natural Resource Fund, we have established a sound governance structure that will see petroleum revenues being deposited directly into the Fund. We have designed the Fund in a manner that accessing the funds is by way of a withdrawal rule. This rule is based on an analysis of both the oil and non-oil sectors. It will prevent oil price volatility from entering our economy, afford funding for national development priorities, and allow for interest-bearing investments to be made. In this way, the earnings from petroleum will benefit both present and future generations. I am proud to state that the reporting and accountability criteria within the NRF Act meet the well-established Santiago principles for transparency and good governance.

It may seem almost surreal to be a country that is considered resource-rich, especially for those of us who have worked for decades fighting the good fight for additional resources and more concessional resources. But even that definition of being resource-rich needs to be considered thoughtfully. Though we will be accessing petroleum revenues, we will be doing so cognizant of the substantial deficient in human capital resources. The factors of production – land, labour, capital and entrepreneurship – would then see two factors being seriously compromised by such deficiency, unless we manage and invest more strategically in the quality of our education.

We are still many years away from being a carbon neutral world; the demand for fossil fuel is likely to last well into next decade – possibly peaking within this decade. Climate concerns are both global and national priorities. Issues of climate change and global warming are areas we seek to address within our Green State Strategy – Vision 2040.  Being green is about sustainability and improving our ability to take sustainable actions regarding production and consumption as a nation. The window of petroleum revenue generation that is afforded us is finite and comes from the extraction of a finite resource. So, it is incumbent upon us to manage this opportunity well so that, ultimately, the non-oil sectors are strengthened to ensure a resilient and diversified economy during this Decade of Development and in the decades beyond petroleum.

In this room, you represent the generation of future thinkers and leaders in supporting the management of our resource-rich economy, but cognizant of where we are resource-poor. While abundant resources are on the horizon, there are abundant needs to be met in bridging the developmental divide between the hinterland and the coastland; ensuring equal access to quality education in every region, from early childhood to secondary and technical vocational skills; ensuring quality healthcare, even as we confront regional and global emerging health challenges; expanding private sector and domestic production of goods and services; and diversifying exports.

In deploying an arsenal of policies and programmes, to address and mitigate the resource curse and expand the non-petroleum sectors, our Government continues to:

  1. be in active partnership in an Inter-ministerial Working Group with the Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association on expanding agro-processing and wood processing sectors. Later this year, we will be focusing on the services sector and tourism product development
  2. prioritise agriculture, since it remains key to ensuring food security and economic diversification across our ten administrative regions 
  3. strengthen our manufacturing and services sectors, so vital for ensuring global competitiveness
  4. leverage our standing forests
  5. design and implement investments in catalytic infrastructure, while ensuring a robust public investment management system
  6. design strategic interventions in education to effect a performance-based approach to ensuring quality and equity
  7. focus on institutional strengthening activities across government 

While the list is by no means exhaustive, in combination with good governance and public financial management, these seven (7) are key to ensuring that we emerge as a buoyant and diversified economy through the leveraging of our resource wealth to address the areas that we are resource poor.  In the end, time will tell our story. Make no mistake that you are key players in that story and I expect this and other training to which you have already been exposed, will serve to make you active shapers of a history of which we can all be collectively proud. The technical quality of your work, your research, your economic modeling, your ability to design systems to support stronger institutions, and your ability to lead effective implementation, must be what drives your work ethic. 

I charge you to learn and participate actively over the next five days.

It is indeed a pleasure to declare this workshop officially open. 

Thank you.

Read More
20 Dec
By: Tanika Jones 0

Remarks by the Minister of Finance at sod turning ceremony for the University of Guyana’s Early Childhood Centre of Excellence

Season’s Greetings to you all! This holiday season is indeed a special one, as it marks the end of two decades, since the turn of the 21st century. I’m certain that many of us may be reflecting on how life has changed for us over the past twenty years. If you are a working person, perhaps you are thinking about the ways that your career has progressed through these years. If you are a parent, you must be amazed at how quickly your child has gone from being a small, curious toddler to a young adult during their university studies or work activities. And for all of us Guyanese, we are surely reflecting on the growth and evolution that our country has undergone since the year 2000. We as a nation have seen so much, learned so much, and overcome the various growing pains that come with inevitable change that we too must be in awe of our achievements despite the naysayers. As we approach 2020, let us be proud of how much we have been able to achieve, and at the same time, aspire for greater breakthroughs and milestones in the years to come even as the Coalition Government embarks on its Decade of Development that will seek to transform this nation at all levels.

Therefore, it gives me great pleasure to be here with you today to declare the beginning of a yet another milestone for our nation—the establishment of Guyana’s very first Early Childhood Centre of Excellence!

This Early Childhood Centre of Excellence funded jointly by the Government of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana and the Caribbean Development Bank, through Basic Needs Trust Fund Guyana, will stand as a model institution for service delivery and development of early childhood education.

While it is not the first such centre that has been established by the BNTF – 6 centres were established in the 7th and 8th project cycles – this Centre of Excellence which will be established in the 9th cycle will be at the helm; guiding the direction and standards of early childhood education nationwide. A Centre of Excellence is unique in that it not only contains a facility for our children to grow and thrive in a safe environment conducive to learning, but it will also function as a research facility, where early childhood education scholars can come together to conduct studies and further develop good practices. It will serve as a hub and resource centre for other early childhood education practitioners to gain knowledge and advice from experts in the field.

Once established, this Centre will become a flagship laboratory school under the University of West Indies Open Campus (UWI OC) Early Childhood Centres of Excellence Company, as formalized in a Memorandum of Understanding between UWI and the University of Guyana. The Company, also known as BLOOM, has established Centres of Excellence in Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago. These laboratory preschools employ holistic education methods while creating a nurturing and engaging atmosphere for the students enrolled there. With University of Guyana’s Centre now joining these prestigious ranks, Guyana will also be able to build upon its cultural power and realm of influence throughout the Caribbean.

According to the World Bank, far too few children worldwide, especially those from the poorest families, have the option to enroll in high quality early childhood programmes. And many experts have emphasised that investing in children’s development during the first eight years of their life is critical for their school, life success and productivity. Until the establishment of the Early Childhood Development Centres under BNTF, there was only one state-owned day care centre, and, apart from the services offered by the Mayor and Councillors of the City of Georgetown, services for infants up to the age of three remained largely in the private sector and in the hands of untrained individuals. It is critically important then, that we, as a nation, invest more in early childhood education, to ensure that all children of a certain age have access to these crucial services.

The Centre of Excellence will therefore prove a truly worthwhile investment, with 120 million dollars allocated for the construction of the centre. The building will span 7,624 square feet and contain enough classrooms to accommodate 120 infants and toddlers, along with an observation room, conference room, and research spaces. At least 20 adults will gain employment there and learn to become better early childhood practitioners themselves. Professional development opportunities abound in such a space, with the Centre producing capable individuals to contribute to Guyana’s skilled labour force.

As 2020 swiftly approaches, let one of our goals be to build an “Education Nation,” a country that emphasizes quality at each stage of the education process, from the services catering to the youngest of our population, all the way up to continuing education for adults. Learning should be an unceasing process throughout our lives, but how it starts in the early years of a child’s development is particularly crucial: it will dictate the kind of adults they become, and, in turn, determine the future of our great nation.

With that, I would like to once again commend this wonderful initiative and wish you all a joyful holiday season! Thank you.

Read More
25 Sep
By: Tanika Jones 0

Minister of Finance’ Remarks at the Unveiling of NIS Commemorative Stamp for 50th Anniversary

Mr. Chairman

Board of Directors of the National Insurance Scheme

Management and Staff of the National Insurance Scheme

Representatives of the Media

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen:


Good evening!

I am very pleased to join you for the unveiling of this Commemorative Stamp. This commemorative stamp is a postage stamp, which is being issued to honor the 50th Anniversary of the National Insurance Scheme (NIS). Fifty years of service to the Guyanese citizens is indeed a significant milestone that is worth observing and remembering in a symbolic way. And what better reminder than this stamp! Congratulations are extended to the Board of Directors, Management and Staff of the National Insurance Scheme.

Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, your golden anniversary is worth celebrating. as the organization, over the years, has metamorphosed from the provision of basic benefits at a central location in Georgetown, to an expanded coverage for employed and self-employed contributors at locations across Guyana. Modern technology has also transformed the way you have been doing business, as compliance and reporting can be done via the internet and within a much shorter timeframe.

Mr. Chairman, last year, during my address to the staff on the Scheme’s 49th Anniversary, I briefly traced the origin of the NIS. As I recalled, the idea of establishing the National Insurance Scheme was conceived by the late Linden Forbes Sampson Burnham, who, at that time, was Prime Minister of Guyana and Founder-Leader of the People’s National Congress. He would later go on to become the first Executive President of the country. Back in 1969, that political party held a majority government and the Peoples Progressive Party was in opposition. Mr. Chairman, I recall this tiny, but important, bit of our history because the establishment of the National Insurance Scheme was done against the backdrop of strong opposition by the PPP.

Today, I shudder to think how the absence of a National Insurance Scheme would have impacted the standard of living of our retirees and senior citizens, who are now recipients of old age pensions and other benefits; and the employed and self- employed individuals who are still in the work force but who access various benefits of the Scheme, such as sickness, maternity and spectacles. The National Insurance Scheme, having evolved and in spite of its challenges, is a living testimony of the foresight and wisdom of the PNC and the ability of the Government that it led to make wise policy decisions that are beneficial to Guyanese citizens. It is apposite to note that 50 years later, the PNC is the major partner in the Coalition Government that is transforming the country, from coastland to hinterland, improving equity in the allocation and distribution of the country’s resources, and calmly guiding the shape of state in this tense period leading up to the General and Regional Elections. We shall overcome.

Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, our Government is acutely aware that access to social security is pivotal to the economic and social well-being of Guyanese; it is a fundamental human right enshrined in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The establishment of the National Insurance Scheme a mere three years after Guyana gained political independence from the Britain, in May 1966, was a landmark achievement. I want to assure you that our Government will continue to make every effort to keep the National Insurance Scheme relevant and viable, so that Guyanese can continue to enjoy bigger and better benefits.

As the Minister of Finance, with responsibility for general oversight and policy guidance to the National Insurance Scheme, I am aware of some of the challenges that the organization faces, in its efforts to maintain financial sustainability. Some of these challenges are similar to those faced by other National Insurance Schemes in the region. This fact was well documented in a 2016 IMF study that was conducted on Social Security Schemes in the Caribbean. Among the findings were that an aging population, slow economic growth and high unemployment were major contributors to the high actuarial deficit that social security schemes in the Caribbean faced. The report recommended a range of reform measures to urgently reverse the trend.

But let me hasten to say that I am not suggesting that all the reform measures proposed by the IMF are suitable for our country. Clearly, some of them can have a negative impact on the economic and financial position of eligible contributors and beneficiaries. Be that as it may, I enjoin the Board of Directors and Management to urgently review the Scheme’s sustainability plan and come up with country-specific solutions to address these challenges. I can assure you of our Government’s continued support, so tangibly exemplified by the issuance of debentures to offset the loss that emanated from the reckless CLICO investment.

Your 50th anniversary comes at an historic period in Guyana. The arrival of the Floating Production Storage and Offloading Facility (FPSO), of which I had the pleasure of visiting in the company of the First Lady, has brought us closer to that reality. We are all anxiously awaiting the arrival of first oil. The developments in the oil sector have made Guyana prominent on the world map, and the recent discoveries of Exxon+14 and Tullow+2, just a few days ago, has catapulted our country among the world’s top oil producing nations per capita.

These developments will have implications for the performance of the National Insurance Scheme. Oil production will propel significant economic growth in Guyana. Preliminary estimates for real growth in 2020 and 2021 are 33.5 percent and 22.9 percent, respectively. These lofty growth rates would leave behind the single digit rates achieved in the post-Independence period. There is no doubt that these impressive growth rates will translate into more contributions remitted to the NIS.

Oil production will also create employment opportunities at all levels of the supply chain. It is for you, Board of Directors, Management and Staff, to the seize the moment (carpe diem) to expand the Scheme’s revenue base and enhance your financial position. You must continue to build capacity and put the necessary institutional measures in place to ensure that all employers, employees and self-employed individuals are registered with the Scheme and their contributions remitted in a timely manner.

You have come a far way; you reached another milepost. There is more work to be done.

Thank you!

And now it is my distinct pleasure to unveil this commemorative stamp.

Read More
07 Sep
By: Tanika Jones 0

Commissioning of Lube Bond and Office Facility – Address delivered by Hon. Winston Jordan Minister of Finance

Chairman and other Members of the Board of Directors
CEO, Management and Staff of GUYOIL
Representatives of the Media
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen

Good afternoon!

First, let me thank Ras Camo for that lovely Guyanese patriotic song, “Oh Beautiful Guyana”. That song keeps reminding us of what a blessed place Guyana is, especially in light of the devastation wreaked on The Bahamas by Hurricane Dorian. I distinctly recall many Guyanese who left these shores in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s in search of a better life. Many of our teachers, who were educated at Cyril Potter College of Education and Lilian Dewar College and who were the beneficiaries of free education, left these shores for The Bahamas. Many of them probably lost everything as a result of Hurricane Dorian, which packed winds in excess of 200 mph. I take this opportunity to commiserate with the people of The Bahamas in this time of grave suffering. I understand that they intend to rebuild stronger and better. However, these powerful hurricanes are becoming more frequent. A Category 5 hurricane is classified as one packing winds upwards of 155 mph. However, with Dorian, the Scale may have to be extended to Category 10. The point is that we will have to think well beyond just put in place more resilient infrastructure. It is time these islands consider their long term future and examine how, in the context of the CARICOM family, they can take advantage of the bounties Guyana has to offer. Just some food for thought.

The second comment I would like to make, before touching on my Address, is that, at nearly $300 million, the planners of this modern edifice should have considered moving the entire staff from their Headquarters in Camp Street. This would provide synergies, economies of scale and general cost savings. In addition, the City is beyond congested; the future is the East Bank. Already, a number of businesses have established in the Providence area. Many housing schemes are springing up in several villages. And, with a road connecting the East Coast of Demerara with the East Bank of Demerara at Ogle and Timehri, new lands will be opened for business, farming and housing. So, the place to be is the East Bank; it provides easier passage to higher ground on the Linden Highway, should the low-lying coast be visited by a watery catastrophe.

Nevertheless, I am delighted to join you today for the commissioning of this modern Lube Bond and Office Facility. At the outset, please allow me, Mr. Chairman, to add my own special welcome to each of you and to thank you for your presence.

Mr. Chairman, the construction of this facility is, indeed, a positive development, as it is yet another indication of the great strides that the economy is making. Any economist would tell you that a good barometer of how well an economy is doing is the growth in construction. In fact, it is rumored that, in an attempt to understand how the economy was progressing, a former Governor of the Bank of Guyana would mount the last flight of stairs to the Roof Garden of the Bank, where he would enjoy a panoramic view of cranes, derricks and smoke-emitting chimneys.

If people are constructing, they are showing faith in the future. They would have made their own assessment and come to the conclusion that it is worthwhile putting down a permanent structure. All over the country, things are happening, something is being constructed. As a result, at the half year, the construction sector had grown by 8.2 percent, following 8.1 percent growth at the similar period last year. And, buoyed by this growth, we have projected the sector to grow by 11 percent by the end of the year. Overall, we project the economy to grow by 4.5 percent in real terms, the fifth consecutive year of growth under the Coalition Government; it would represent another year of solid, broad based growth, and give credence to the NASDAQ prediction of Guyana having one of the fastest growing economies in the world. This performance would nail the lies of the haters, the naysayers, the detractors and the fault-finders who see nothing but gloom in a country bristling with promise and progress, and making its way to prosperity. On the other hand, it would be sweet music to the ears of investors, both foreign and local, who have been exuding confidence in the long term prospects for the economy, ever since Exxon 13 + Tullow 1 have de-risked the Guyana petroleum basin.

I understand that this building is 100 percent solar powered, in keeping with the company’s strategic objective of “energy conservation in alignment with Guyana’s green initiative.” Solar power ranks highly amongst the cleanest and most green energy sources, since no pollution is created in the process of generating electricity. Evidence has also shown that although renewable energy requires upfront capital, it is one of the lowest cost energy options available, the most compelling reason for its utilization globally.

I have no doubt that this investment, while supporting the country’s long term development strategy, will reduce the company’s expenditure, improve its profitability, and put it in a better position to make larger dividends and other transfers to the Treasury. Unlike many of the commercial corporations that still shelter under the public umbrella, Guyoil has been a net contributor to the Treasury. However, while this position is not threatened with reversal anytime soon, GUYOIL has faced some challenges, in recent times, that have had an effect on sales volume, sales receipts and the bottom line. I know that the Board and Management will be working assiduously to reposition and realign the corporation as quickly as possible.

Be that as it may, I would like to applaud the Board of Directors and Management of GUYOIL for taking the initiative to go green. Transforming Guyana into a green economy requires the support of all stakeholders, particularly key stakeholders like GUYOIL.

The commissioning of this facility is also taking place at a time when the Government, in pursuit of its green agenda, is putting together an energy plan with an appropriate energy mix, utilizing solar, wind and hydropower, among other clean energy sources. Guyana is largely endowed with all of these resources and the discovery of oil and gas, in impressive amounts, has enhanced the country’s natural resource mix. This Government is aware that low cost, reliable and affordable energy supply is critical to economic growth and development, and has started to invest in renewable energy projects. I should like to use this opportunity to highlight the efforts of my Administration to diminish our dependence on fossil fuels.

The main electric utility, Guyana Power and Light Inc. (GPL), is preparing for utility scale solar PV farms for the national grid. With funding available under the Guyana REDD+ Investment Fund (GRIF), Guyana is pursuing 30 MW solar PV farms for the Demerara-Berbice Interconnected System and 5 MW (combined) for the Essequibo Coast and Leguan Systems. In addition, the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) is supporting the Government of Guyana and the private sector to advance solar PV initiatives under a pipeline of projects.

Our Government installed the first Solar PV Farm in Mabaruma, Region 1 with an installed capacity of 400kW. However, because of damage caused by lightning during installation, the completion has been delayed.

Through support from the Government of Japan and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), we will benefit from a Renewable Energy and Energy Efficient Power System Project. This project comprises 2 components: (i) Technical Loss Reduction for the GPL Power System; and (ii) Installation of a 400kWp solar PV system with storage, along with a Building Energy Management System at the Caricom Secretariat building.

During 2020-21, we will install 3 utility scale solar PV Farms in Bartica (1.5MW); Lethem (1MW); and Mahdia (0.65MW). In addition, Guyana’s proposal for 3 additional utility scale solar PV Farms for Port Kaituma (0.65MW); Kwakwani (1MW); and Matthew’s Ridge (0.4MW), under the International Renewable Energy Agency/Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (IRENA/ADFD), was approved in January 2019.

With grant funding from the United Arab Emirates Caribbean Renewable Energy Fund (UAE-CREF), GPL will benefit from the installation of 600 kW Solar PV Farm at Wakenaam, with battery storage to supply the island with about 80% of its energy needs.
Also, the Government has embarked on a Green Public Sector Programme, in keeping with a Presidential charge for the public sector to lead the way in transitioning towards greater renewable energy use. During 2015-2019, rooftop solar PV systems were installed at 291 Government buildings resulting in a total combined installed capacity of over 5 MW.

The Guyana Energy Agency is carrying out a pilot programme for stand-alone solar street lighting and, to date, 65 solar powered LED street lights have been installed. An additional 400 solar powered LED street lights is being installed in 2019.

In addition, as a member of the International Solar Alliance (ISA), we have submitted an application for support for the implementation of a solar PV programme that targets off-grid Solar PV, with storage for hinterland communities and rural electrification. The programme will provide sustainable electricity and potable water to hinterland villages.

In the area of hydropower, we completed the construction of a 20 kW hydropower power plant at Hosororo, in Region 1, in 2018, and we will start the construction of a 150 kW hydropower power plant in Kato, Region 8, in 2019. In addition to these projects, several other hydropower stations are planned for the 2021-25 period, including Moco Moco (0.7 MW); Kumu (1.5 MW); and Ikuribisi (1 MW).

We hope to add a 188 MW Natural Gas Power Plant, in the not too distant future, to complement our intricate energy mix. Although not “green”, it is a cleaner source of energy when compared to our diesel and fossil fuel power generation options. Already, our Government has commissioned studies to assess the viability of this project, including looking at options, cost, impact and key considerations of transporting and utilizing offshore natural gas for electricity generation and incentivizing the growth of our fledgling manufacturing sector.

In the area of energy efficiency, over 26,400 LED lights and 4,500 occupancy sensors were installed by the end of 2018 in public buildings, ministries and schools. With support from the Government of Japan, the Japan Caribbean Climate Change Partnership (JCCCP) and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Guyana commenced the planned installation of over 11,000 energy efficient street lights, which will continue during the remainder of 2019 and 2020.

An LED Lighting Replacement Programme is being implemented for the residential and commercial customers of the 6 Hinterland utilities (Kwakwani Utilities Inc., Lethem Power Company Inc., Mabaruma Power and Light Inc., Port Kaituma Power and Light Inc., Mahdia Power and Light Inc., and Matthew’s Ridge Power and Light Inc.) The objective of the Programme is to promote energy efficiency and conservation in connected households and commercial businesses by replacing older lighting technology with LED lights. A similar programme is planned for 2020 for Linden, Bartica, Leguan and Wakenaam.

Mr. Chairman, when this Government took office, in May 2015, there were many communities in Guyana that had access to little or no electricity. Renewable energy has taken electricity to remote and other communities in Guyana, improving living conditions and changing peoples’ lives forever. Many of our Indigenous communities are able to establish commercial activities for the first time because they now have access to electricity. Children in Indigenous communities are performing better at school because they have electricity and can spend more time doing homework.

And please note, ladies and gentlemen, that Guyana will not be the only oil producing country to pursue a renewable energy path. In fact, Norway, a major oil producing country, sources most of the electricity generated in the country from renewable sources, and is considered a world leader in the use of renewable energy.

You all are aware, that the impressive developments in the petroleum industry in Guyana are attracting global attention. Foreign investors on a daily basis are coming to Guyana, as they seek to participate in the new oil discovery. As a company with many years of experience in the downstream value chain, GUYOIL must take advantage of new business opportunities that will arise, so that the company can benefit directly from the country’s oil sector.

GUYOIL must also prepare itself to move beyond its current role of stabilizer of domestic prices, towards participating in the re-distribution of the country’s oil wealth to the society, in general, when oil production starts. You must become an industry leader, going where others fear to tread, thereby helping the Government to bring equity to the Regions and communities. You will need to expand your facilities, build capacity and acquire new skills, where necessary.
Increased economic activities have precipitated a significant rise in the number of vehicles entering the country. The standard of living of Guyanese will continue to improve, as the country is poised for high and sustainable growth levels. This growth will translate into more motor vehicles being imported for private and commercial purposes, among other things. I must add, also, that, with the production of oil, the Government’s plan is to diversify the economy, to develop the indigenous and new economic sectors, in order to avoid becoming heavily dependent on the petroleum resources. These developments will have implications for the services offered by GUYOIL. Therefore, you should prepare adequately to respond to the changing needs of your customers.
Ladies and gentlemen, in closing, I congratulate all those involved in bringing this investment to fruition. I hope that this facility will enhance service delivery, thereby making GUYOIL more relevant and more profitable.

Ladies and gentlemen, it is now my pleasure to commission this Lube Bond and Office Facility.

I thank you.

Read More
02 Aug
By: Tanika Jones 0

Speech of Minister Of Finance for the Success Elementary School Graduation

Success Elementary School

Ninth Annual Prize- Giving Exercise

National Cultural Centre

(July 10, 2019)

Address Delivered by Hon. Winston Jordan

Minister of Finance

Mr. Wilfred Success, Director, Success Elementary School

Graduating Class of 2019

Staff of Success Elementary School

Students of Success Elementary School

Proud Parents and other well wishers

Representatives of the Media

Distinguished ladies and gentlemen

Good afternoon!

Let me begin by extending a warm welcome to all of you to this very special event. I would like to thank the pupil for that kind introduction. While I sat waiting to come to the podium, I enjoyed the offerings of the students of the school. I got goosebumps listening to the choir’s rendition of “Wade in the Water”. I hope the choir master has taken the time to explain the significance of that song. Indeed, that song was sung by the slaves and used to guide runaway slaves to Canada, where they enjoyed complete freedom. 

I would like to recognise the contribution of the founder of the school, Wilfred Success. Sir Wilfred, your contribution to the education revolution – from your success at West Ruimveldt Primary School to your stellar achievements at your own school – will have a special place in the annals of our history. I offer my personal congratulations on the conferral of a national award. I also want to thank my fellow Member of Parliament, Ms. Africo Selman, for initiating the request for me to be the Guest Speaker today. We may be on the opposite side of the National Assembly, but both of us have a passion for education and learning.

I am so excited to be here with you, to share in your success, your joy, your hopes and aspiration. From your smiles and happy faces, I know that you have been looking forward to this occasion for the past six (6) years. Through good times and bad, through sun and rain, early morning rising, the difficult subject, the stern teacher, lessons and still more lessons, the temptations and restrictions, you have stayed the course, rode the waves and can now say, with impish pride, “I did it!” Beneath those smiles, though, I sense a bit of fear of moving on, fear of that unknown entity called secondary school, sad of leaving well-cultivated friendships behind, sad to say goodbye to your teachers and friends. 

Looking at your faces, at the teachers, I realise everything has changed from the time when I attended Campbellville Government School, my primary school, from 1964-68. Back then, we did not refer to our classes as Grade 1, or Grade 2, etc. The first two (2) grades were referred to as Lil ABC and Big ABC. The next four (4) grades in primary school were called Standard 1, Standard 2, Standard 3, and Standard 4. In Standard 4, we were prepared to write Common Entrance Examination (CEE), which I did in 1968. If my memory serves me correctly, we wrote Mathematics, General Knowledge and General Science at the Common Entrance. Today, it is called National Grade Six Assessment (NGSA), and you write Mathematics, English, Social Studies and Science.

Back then, we wrote on slate for the first 2 grades, before being introduced to exercise books. We learnt about pounds, shillings and pence:  12 pence = 1 shilling; 20 shillings = 1 pound. Of course, today, there are no shillings and, instead 0f 240 pence, it is now 100 pence = 1 pound.

Back then, we had no TV: we would have been lucky to be treated to a matinee session of the cinema at 9 am on Saturday mornings. So, we immersed ourselves in reading anything that came our way – the daily newspapers and comic books. We listened to the radio, whenever our parents could afford to turn it on. We feasted on outdoor games: sal pass, gam, ling, pee put, litty, police and thief, hop scotch, dolly house, war break and many more; and on fruit trees: mango, genip, whitey, jamoon, gooseberry, dunks, tamarind, among others. We bush cooked, oftentimes the ingredients included a fowl or duck, eggs, vegetables, rice and ground provision that were culled, with or without the knowledge of our parents and/or neighbours.

Today, it is so much more different: smart phones, smart TVs, video games, internet, social media (Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram) and so much more. The technology is mindboggling and its potential for smart outcomes is endless. On the other hand, it is having a crippling impact on healthy living: Outdoor recreation has been replaced by the couch potato; Mom’s home cooking has given way to fast food, bringing with it an increase in lifestyle diseases such as diabetes.

In as much as I have reminisced on the past that has brought us to today, we must look to tomorrow, for tomorrow is the future, the beginning of a wonderful, exciting time in your young lives.  Those teenage years promise to be memorable, if you stay away from vices such as drugs. So, how should you approach this aspect of your life? What are the secrets of success? There are many, of which I will share a few with you.

The first is GROWTH

I CAN BEST ILLUSTRATE THIS SECRET BY TELLING YOU THE STORY OF MULAN. I am not sure how many of you know of this story, but ‘Mulan’ is the epic adventure of a fearless woman who masquerades as a man in order to fight Northern invaders attacking China. She wanted to defeat the Huns, but she did not know how to fight. She could not even carry a weapon. But she did not let that stop her. She practiced until she got so tired, she could not practice anymore. The next day, she got up and practiced again; she got beat up, but she practiced; was left hanging on a pole, but she practiced; she got buried in snow, but she practiced. And before we knew it, she was China’s hero.

What I’m trying to say is that the next years of your lives will determine your future. So, make the next years one of personal growth. Embrace growth, find out what you are good at, find out what you like to do and go for it. Grow. Practice. And practice some more. Because, here is another secret: if you practice, you can believe, you can achieve, you can be anything you want to be. Do not be afraid. While you are at it, do not be afraid of failure (FOF). I know the NGSA exam results are out. I have seen how well you and your school have done. But many of you have not done as well as you could have or should have. In your eyes, you think you are a failure because you have not got a “good” school. Your parents, friends, relatives, even teachers, may think so, too. 

But I have news for you: failure is a part of life, a part of growing up. The Bible is replete with many examples of failure, perhaps the most famous being the failure of Adam and Eve to heed the caution about eating the fruit from the tree of good and evil. We all know of the greatest basketball player, Michael Jordan. What you probably don’t know is that he missed 9,000 shots in his career, lost almost 300 games, and missed almost 26 winning shots. He failed over and over and over again. Yet, he is undoubtedly the greatest of them all. There are other inspiring stories from which you could take heart, not least of them being that of Colonel Sanders, the founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken. His is a story of rejection, disappointment and failure time and time again. But he took his failures in stride: every time he fell, he got up, dusted himself off and started again.

Here is a very interesting statistic: only four – Burnham, Jagan, Hinds, Granger – of Guyana’s nine Presidents went to Queen’s College. That’s less than 50 percent. And yours truly went to a junior Secondary School, Cumming’s Lodge Secondary School. Today, I’m the Minister of Finance, who has had the good fortune of attending four universities, free of tuition, including the prestigious Harvard University. I have been responsible for Guyana earning the accolade of the fastest growing economy in the world by the NASDAQ. So, parents, here is some sobering advice: do not pressure your child, but nurture and love him/her. Your response to your child’s result can lower his/her self esteem, bring feelings of worthlessness, and damage his/her future. A seed, once planted, cared for and nurtured can bloom and thrive in the toughest of environments. Guyana needs all of its sons and daughters to guide the nation through an explosive period of transformation and development, where the Good Life is promised to all.


I expound on this secret with a quote from Sarah Brown Wessling, Teacher of the Year, USA 2010, “…Without skills, students are left to memorize facts, recall details for worksheets, and relegate their educational experience to passivity…Embracing a 21st-century learning model requires consideration of those elements that could comprise such a shift: creating learners who take intellectual risks, fostering learning dispositions, and nurturing school communities where everyone is a learner.” We live in a world that is dominated by social media, where the fusion of ideas and knowledge offers a country a competitive edge. So, I urge our youngsters in attendance to seek early guidance as to a career opportunity. As one educator puts it, “The primary purpose of education is to enable students to make a living as adults; without this capability, everything else falls away…” Teaching and teaching methods must change rapidly; twenty-first century learning must emphasize higher order thinking skills, critical thinking, problem-solving skills, and out-of-the-box thinking. Here I want to recall Elisabeth Reid Boyd’s, The Beautiful Truth: How creativity can help us cultivate moral imagination, in which she contends, “Our moral imagination can put us in touch with all that is truthful and beautiful in the world, in ourselves, and in each other.” W. B. Yeats, in his preface to the poetry of William Blake, wrote “All worthy things, all worthy deeds, all worthy thoughts, are works of art or of imagination.” So, the value of positive, imaginative, innovative thinking must be imbued and inculcated in our children. While we are it, changes to the curriculum must incorporate nonconventional subjects such as entrepreneurship; must remove the stigma from technical and vocational education; and must embrace a foreign language as part of matriculation requirements. Even Social Studies should be revamped to emphasize Guyanese history and pride in citizenry. It is most distressing to learn how our children possess very little knowledge of Venezuela’s and Suriname’s claims on our territory. Teachers and parents, I urge you to help students see future possibilities, and keep them engaged today. Help them to connect their strengths and interests to long term goals today.


We say it every day – “Thank you”. But we do not know how much power THANK YOU has. When you appreciate people and events, and the things you have in your life, the whole universe jumps up and down and what it wants to do is to give you more. Try it. Say thank you more often. Say it with your every step; say it with your every prayer. You will be amazed at the wonderful surprises it will give you. Your parents, mentors and teachers have put a lot of effort into helping you to reach this point in your academic journey. So, this is a good opportunity to hug them and thank them for supporting you. And while we are at it, I want to thank you for having me in your presence today. It is my great privilege.


I ask myself: what is in the head of the average 11-year old? Gaming? Latest phone or video game? The opposite sex? (of course). All of the above? In secondary school, you can become easily distracted if you do not exercise discipline. Stay focused, carefully select your friends and wisely manage your time and activities, especially the online activities. Remember that the internet and social media are good tools for success, but addictive masters if used irresponsibly. So, although your parents will most likely give you more internet privileges now, it is your responsibility to ensure that you use these tools to enhance your academic performance and keep you out of trouble. 

Make a commitment to let this new stage of your academic journey be better. Study hard and play hard. Make time to read widely. Test scores in this year’s NGSA, for reading and writing, have not been encouraging. While we may enjoy speaking creoles, we must write in Standard English. So, take a cue from the girl who was adjudged the best writer of the composition aspect of the NGSA. She was an avaricious reader, and, in her own words, it helped her to write an excellent composition. Use some of the time you spend on your phones and computers to read a novel, the newspapers, a magazine.

So, we have dealt with a few keys to success. But success isn’t just an alibi to a better life. Life is just not about success only. Life is also about your happiness and wellbeing. Your happiness is critical to your achieving success. Choose your path in life wisely. Don’t let others harm you or ruin your happiness.

I have given you the 3 G’s and a D to success. It would be remiss of me, however, if, before closing, I do not leave you with the 3 A’s. The first A is to Aspire. To aspire is to aim, plan your journey, take action. The second A is to Achieve. To achieve is to go and take steps closer to your goals. This is the part when you say, “I can, and I will”. This is very important in secondary school, when the going gets tough and you feel like giving up or dropping out. The third A is to Advance. To Advance is to take it to the next level, to deny your comfort zone, and go outside the box. When you graduate, it ends a journey and begins another one. There is still something bigger and higher after that. Life never seems to end, and that’s the good thing about life. So, always remember the 3 A’s. And yes, there’s always a chance you may fail, but there is a bigger chance you may not.

Let me, once again, extend congratulations to all of the graduates, parents, teachers and everyone who contributed, in some way, to making today’s event a reality. Please give yourselves a round of applause! 

To the graduates, I hope that in your life, you will have people who will listen and spend some time with you, encourage you and believe in you. May you embrace growth and excellence, may you be generous, may you say thank you more often, and may God, Allah and Lord Shiva watch over you. With this blessing, may you go forth and find your calling in life, and do wonderful things with it. Again, my heartiest congratulations to you and thank you for listening!


Read More
27 Jul
By: Tanika Jones 0

Address by Minister of Finance at Linden Business Summit

Linden Chamber of Industry Commerce and Development

Business Summit, Watooka House

 (July 25, 2019)

Remarks delivered by Hon. Winston Jordan

Minister of Finance


Mr. Chairperson

Mr. Victor Fernandes

President, Linden Chamber of Industry,  Commerce and Development

Other Members of the Head Table

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen


Good morning!

I am honored to have been invited to address you at the opening of this inaugural Business Summit that brings together experts from the public and private sectors and the Diaspora. My deep appreciation goes out to the organizers of this Business Summit.  This event provides us with an opportunity to bring together a vital cross section of peoples and organisations dedicated to the sustainable development of the Linden community against the backdrop of the natural beauty of this region. Please allow me, Mr. Chairman, to extend a special welcome to everyone present, especially those from the Diaspora. I wish you a very pleasant and productive stay.


Mr. Chairman, though I keep a busy schedule, I am always happy to come and break bread with Lindeners, whenever I can. Since becoming Minister of Finance, I have visited Linden frequently, and have assisted in a number of areas, including providing beds for dormitories, lights, bus sheds and an early learning centre. I have also supported social and other worthy causes. This support comes from a minor vote, which comes under my purview. And I am always happy to assist within the constraints of the available resources.

Mr. Chairman, this Business Summit may be the first of its kind, but I certainly hope that it is not the last. I anticipate that it will evolve into an annual event. I am particularly happy to see here today, many participants from outside of Linden, but who are integrally involved with business and commerce in the town. I expect that this Summit will strengthen these ties, and that it will create new vistas in trade and commerce not merely in the business sector, but across the spectrum of positive people to people relations. In these turbulent times, where partisanship seems to trump partnership, one can only hope that that this Business Summit contributes to advancing the principles and foundation on which this Coalition Government was built.

I note from the programme, that this Business Summit will be addressing a number of key issues affecting business opportunities and development in Linden. While you are at it, I hope that you will also discuss green businesses and oil and gas, two emerging sectors that have the potential to shape Guyana’s trajectory in the medium to long term.

Mr. Chairman, I observe that the theme for this Business Week and Exposition is “New Horizons, New Opportunities in 2019”. Well we are way past half of the year, already. And, with a mere 5 months to the end of 2019, I am not sure about the suitability of this theme. However, it becomes apt if you were to drop “in 2019”. I would then find the revised theme “New Horizons, New Opportunities” to be fitting, at this juncture, when Guyana is poised to become a major oil producing country.

Mr. Chairman, I am here to reiterate that Guyana is open for business. Over the last 4 years, we have been constantly reforming and adjusting our policies, rules and regulations to make the investment climate more favourable, predictable, facilitative and friendly. This is unlike what we met, when we entered Office: a situation of who knew whom and who could have ‘hobnobbed’ with the then political elite, were favoured with concessions, prime land and property at peppercorn rates, and other giveaways. Today, those who benefitted are being called upon by their ‘handlers’ to show their appreciation by confronting the Coalition Government and the independent, Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM). My Government has taken the courageous step to remove this parasitic approach to one in favour of equity. In short, we want to establish a welcoming economic environment for all, not a select few. Among our notable achievements have been comprehensive reform and simplification of the tax system, including: reduction in Company tax for non-commercial companies from 30 percent to 25 percent; reduction in the Value Added Tax from 16 percent to 14 percent; increase in the VAT threshold from $10 million to $15 million; implementation of a special income tax rate of 25 percent for Small Businesses (This is in addition to the numerous concessions available to such businesses under the various Tax Acts); increase in the threshold for filing a property tax return from $0.5 million to $40 million, and reduction in the property tax rate on chargeable property; exemption from Customs Duty, Excise Tax and VAT on a range of capital equipment, intermediate and consumer goods; removed remaining restriction on accessing the Export Allowance to “soft currency” areas in Caricom; and made it easier for individuals and companies to get refunds of taxes from the GRA. At the individual level, we have reduced the personal income tax from 30 percent to 27.5 percent, increased the personal income tax allowance from $600,000 to $720,000 or 1/3 of gross income, whichever is higher; removed income tax from the employee’s contribution to NIS; and given equal treatment to Vacation Allowance across the public and private sectors. While these business-specific reforms have been direct, the tremendous increase in Government’s expenditure on health and education, housing and water, and the physical and economic infrastructure, while maintaining low, single digit inflation and a relatively stable and free exchange rate; and rigorous measures to fight corruption have contributed immeasurably to the facilitative climate for investment in Guyana. And weaving all these into a strong, durable fabric is the Green State Development Strategy (GSDS) which, in turn, is linked to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which we aspire to achieve by 2030. Permit me to say, too, that our reforms have extended to measures aimed at greening our economy, including the imposition of an environmental levy; the banning of Styrofoam used in the packaging of beverage, food and food products; removal of taxes on bio-degradable containers; the waiver of all taxes on motor cars and motor cycles; the lowering of taxes on new vehicles and tyres; the restriction on the importation of re-conditioned vehicles; and the banning of the importation of used tyres.

As a result of the bold, dynamic approach to economic reforms, we have recorded positive growth for each of the years 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018. Indeed, in 2018, our real growth of 4.1 percent was the highest over the past 4 years and the highest since 2014. In the words of the recent Article IV Consultation Mission of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) – an impartial observer – this growth was spread across most sectors. It was to a large extent due to the energy and enterprise of private sector participation such as your good selves. And, many of you would, by now, be familiar with the report of a NASDAQ contributor, which was reported widely in the local press. Here is an extract, as reproduced in OilNow, an online news outlet:

Fueled by mega oil discoveries and production set to hit close to 1 million barrels per day by the mid-2020s, the South American country of Guyana is listed at number 1 among the 5 fastest growing economies in the world.

With a projected growth rate of 16.3% during the four-year period 2018-2021, a Contributor at NASDAQ, the second-largest stock exchange in the world, says Guyana is the fastest growing economy globally. “With a GDP size of $3.63 billion (2018 Rank: 160), a growth rate of 4.1% in 2018 and 4.6% in 2019, Guyana’s economy is expected to grow by 33.5% and 22.9% in 2020 and 2021 respectively,”

With this great outlook for our country, it is truly amazing that we have those in this country who continue to peddle misinformation about the state of our economy and of our future. For too long, we have allowed a small, but influential group, to paint a negative picture of our country. It is time we change that narrative and begin to champion that panoramic view that shows the immense potential of this country, in general, and Linden, in particular.

We recognize the grave challenges we have to face and overcome. From the very beginning of our term in office, our Government identified as a national priority the imperative of bridging the coast with the hinterland, of the need to achieve balanced growth among our regions. In that framework, we recognize that, in spite of the progress made, there is a lot more that needs to be accomplished. We have to address economic and social issues that constrain greater progress and development in Linden. All of us must play a role in laying strong foundations for the sustainable development of this town.

Today, we should be focusing on all forms of investment which, when made with imagination and foresight, and implemented with responsibility and dedication, could play a crucial role in putting Linden’s development trajectory on track. So, this Business Summit should present to you a yet barely explored side of Linden— brimming opportunities and warm and friendly people, all eager to be part of the development adventure. Every dollar spent by our Government, every dollar disbursed by our development partners and every dollar invested by the private sector is a vote of confidence in the resilience and potential of Linden and its people.

Ladies and gentlemen, Region 10 should be congratulated for being the only region thus far to complete the Plan of Action for Regional Development (PARD). This is intended to guide the economic, social, environmental and other development of the Region. Our Government has put together a range of exciting investment projects to be implemented in Linden, inclusive of the Linden-Lethem road, of which the first leg – Mile Zero to Wisroc Junction – will commence in the third quarter of this year. We have secured financing from the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) to design the Mackenzie-Wismar Bridge. Construction is expected to start in 2020. A study is currently on-going for the upgrading of the Soesdyke-Linden Highway, including the installation of lights. Already we have received a budget support loan, which Cabinet has determined will be used to finance the upgrade and lighting of the highway. Ladies and Gentlemen, coming out of the representation by the residents of Linden from the recent Government Outreach, is a decision to reconstruct the Christianburg Primary School at an estimated cost of $105 million. We have put in our pipeline a Linden Waterfront Development Project. Most important of all, we will ensure that the benefits obtained from these and other projects are shared equitably amongst the communities of Linden.

A sector scintillating with potential is tourism. It is the one sector that, perhaps, has the greatest potential for growth and to make Linden a destination town. Your Government recognises the importance of tourism in the development process, and has been putting the necessary infrastructure and policies in place to promote the development of the tourism sector in Guyana.  And we have begun to be rewarded for our efforts: as you are aware, Guyana was only recently recognized as the Best of Eco-Tourism destinations in the world. Linden is strategically located and endowed with tourism products to provide services at the international standards. The massive oil discovery has given Guyana prominence on the world map. The influx of tourist will continue to increase, so take advantage of this market niche that you have. You have the recently-renovated Watooka Guest House, which was once classified as the most prestigious of its kind in the then British Guiana. There must be some truth to this description when one considers the dignitaries who have stayed at this facility. This is the facility where many members of the royal family stayed, including Queen Elizabeth II. This tells me that there was much class and elegance attached to this facility. And so, I urge the current managers of renovated Watooka Guest House to return it to the same class and level of service that is offered to your customers.

Tourists crave extraordinary scenes like the Gluck Island, where the blossoming of Guyana’s National Flower and unusual species of caiman and otters can be viewed. The success of the Annual Rockstone Fish Festival that attracts large numbers of tourists, is another indication of Linden’s tourism potential

But let me emphasise that although you have great tourism potential, tourism cannot operate on its own. You need to create linkages with other types of businesses to expand and develop all sectors and increase economic gain. Tourists need good accommodation, they need food prepared to a certain standard, and they need entertainment. These should be some of the areas of focus in your short to medium term business plans. Take advantage of information technology to boost tourism. The internet can help to reduce cost, enhance operational efficiency, improve access to customers and improve service delivery.

Other sectors that offer great potential for investors include agriculture, livestock breeding, aquaculture and forestry, manufacturing, textiles and garment industry, power generation and distribution, education, health services, infrastructure and real estate, as well as industries that can produce value-added products for export. The potential of Linden, with its highly-skilled workforce, to contribute tangibly to the emerging oil and gas sector should be exploited vigorously. As you can see, the list of possibilities in Linden is long and it could go on expanding.

It is the foremost responsibility of a sovereign, democratically-elected Government to provide for the needs of their people in ways that nurture unity and harmony, particularly in a country such as ours, with its vast richness of diversity. Development for one should contribute towards development for all. And there is a role for all to play in working for responsible, visionary development grounded in goodwill, good sense, expertise, industry and creativity.

Our private sector partners, the Diaspora and our young entrepreneurs must bring an invigorating blend of urgency and pragmatism, a ‘can do attitude’, and a willingness to roll up their sleeves to get things moving. Your energy and enthusiasm, and your innovative approach can help to discover what others have overlooked, that is, the vast potential and promise of Linden and the wider region.

Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, the elevation of Linden to the status of a town, in 1970, was initiated because the Government of the day, the People’s National Congress, recognized that Linden was endowed with an abundance of resources, and had the potential to efficiently manage its own affairs. Let me emphasize, however, that although your community was one of the most neglected ones for a long time, your Government still has that positive view of Linden, and we will continue to support your endeavours to development this town and the Region. I’m aware that bauxite is a far cry from those halcyon days when the product defined Linden, but you have an abundance of other resources, and, if they are efficiently utilized, can make Linden into a major business hub, servicing all poles of the country.

The Linden Chamber of Industry Commerce and Development has a critical role to play in the economic development of this town. I expect that you will stimulate and galvanize economic development by creating and developing business opportunities and job creation. But to successfully achieve this objective there must be collaboration between the government and the business community. Success is a destination that you must define for this region.  It must represents the vision of a new vista; a new horizon; a new set of possibilities for the region – a change.  That means you will need new skills and competencies.  You will need to change to deal with success.

Change will be a key element in your journey.  Some people will resist change, and leaders are people too.  But when a leader resists change, it slows progress toward the new horizon even more because it is up to them to lead the way.

The journey toward this new horizon brings new challenges and opportunities.  How you handle these new challenges and opportunities will directly impact the speed at which you reach your destination, or if you ever reach your destination at all!  Without change, growth is not possible.  Without growth, new levels of success are out of your reach and you will never experience the new vistas that you seek.

And so, I am heartened by the fruitful discussions that have started between the Chamber and NICIL. It is my hope that stemming from these discussions you will be better equipped to help residents to turn what they know and do best into profitable small, medium and large scale businesses, and provide guidance and advice on business expansion and sustainability.

I understand that one of the main bugbears you identified in your meeting with NICIL is the regularization of industrial land, and I also understand that the Head of NICIL and the Head of the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission (GLSC) are working to bring about a speedy resolution to this problem. The Linden Economic Network (LEN) financing facility is also accessible and I want you to encourage the people in this community to take advantage of this facility and narrow the financing gap.

Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, the impressive developments in the petroleum sector provide new opportunities for private sector businesses. The Government is putting in place an appropriate local content mechanism, but in order for local businesses to benefit from this new resource they have to operate at the requisite standards and pay close attention to the evolving demand for goods and services at every level of the oil and gas supply chain. An efficient Chamber of Commerce can play a critical role in this process by providing the necessary guidance and advice to its members and the business community.

Mr. Chairman, with the anxious arrival of first oil in 2020, our Government intends to pursue economic diversification while oil is profitable, to ensure that the country is not heavily dependent on oil revenue, to the detriment of other sectors. We will ensure that Guyana does not fall into the trap, like other oil producing countries, including some of our immediate neighbors that took this initiative only after oil revenues began to dwindle. Our Government is aware that the role of the private sector in the diversification process is inevitable, and we are facilitating private sector development and expansion by removing bottlenecks to doing business and making the business environment more attractive.  I have already outlined a number of reforms and measures that we have taken. You will recall, too, the introduction of the Trusted Trader Compliance Certificate, which allows for faster clearing of containers at wharves; and the Automatic Issuance of Temporary Income Tax and NIS Compliance Certificates. More recently, the passage of the Customs and Trade Single Window System Bill 2019 will allow parties involved in trade and transport to lodge standardized information and documents with a single entry point to fulfill all imports, exports and transit- related requirements. And, if you need to be reminded, an entire fiscal incentives regime has been in place for Linden and the Surrounding Communities for over two decades. It is unfortunate that advantage has not been taken of these bounties to turn Linden into a paradise.

Mr. Chairman, our new oil find is receiving attention globally. But your Government is aware that that oil resources are exhaustible and oil prices are volatile, hence the need for efficient planning to ensure that the revenues are spent wisely and the economy is insulated from shocks stemming from price volatility. I’m sure that you are familiar with the various unsolicited proposals in the press about what we should do with our new found wealth. At the level of Cabinet, we have not discussed any of those or other proposals. What I can say, however, that the business community, especially Small Businesses, can expect support both in terms of access to affordable financing, additional concessions and more tax reforms to stimulate businesses. I hope that your Chamber will play an integral part in determining how we should use our new found wealth.

To safeguard against the risks stemming from the petroleum sector, the Natural Resource Fund Act (NRFA) was passed in the National Assembly, in January of this year; we are now in the process of putting the relevant systems in place to operationalize the Fund. The private sector has a critical role to play in the administration and oversight of the NRF. Among other things, the Act stipulates that representatives from the private sector must be part of the Public Accountability and Oversight Committee and the Macroeconomic Committee. I am happy to report that we had received the full support of the immediate past leadership of the Private Sector Commission (PSC). We have written to the PSC to name their two representatives, and we hope that the new leadership will move with alacrity to do so.

In closing, let me once again congratulate Linden Chamber of Industry Commerce and Development for organising this Business Summit. I would like to invite you to join in making this Business Summit the successful launching of a great economic venture. Our Government will champion all those who invest responsibly, who respect the environment and who have at heart, the achievement of peace and prosperity of our people.

I look forward to a time when we can look back on this Summit, not just as the dawning of a splendid new era in the history of sustainable development for Linden and Region 10, but also as one of the landmarks of economic progress in Guyana.

Ladies and gentlemen, I thank you for the courtesy of your attention.




To view more images of this event visit our gallery.

Read More