Guyana's Minister of Finance Winston Jordan. (GP)
PROVIDENCIALES, Turks and Caicos Islands – Guyana says it may have to revise earlier predictions of a 3.8 per cent economic growth this year as a result of developments within the sugar industry.
Finance Minister Winston Jordan, addressing the 47th annual meeting of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) Board of Governors that ended here on Thursday, said that nevertheless, this projection is well above the regional average of 1.1 per cent.
“Our economy was able to withstand the global slowdown in 2016, recording a growth rate of 3.3 per cent, an improvement on the three per cent achieved in 2015. This performance, notwithstanding, Guyana, with its small, highly undiversified and open economy, remains extremely susceptible to global shocks, especially unfavourable global commodity price movements.
“We are working, therefore, to reduce the economy’s vulnerability through a more balanced and sustainable approach to development. In this regard, we intend to use the windfall resources expected from the emerging oil and gas sector, responsibly, to build a green economy and endow a soon-to-be established Sovereign Wealth Fund, so that future generations can benefit from the country’s patrimony,” Jordan told the governors, who are also mainly finance and planning and development ministers in other Caribbean countries.
He said that at the same time, Georgetown is improving the environment for attracting foreign and domestic investment, in both traditional and non-traditional sectors and products, while encouraging the development and production of more high-valued products.
He said it is against this backdrop that Guyana anticipates the completion and implementation of the CDB’s proposed Private Sector Development Policy as a catalyst to the growth of our economies through strengthened private sectors, the rebirth of industrialization in the region and increased competitiveness.
Jordan said that being a founding member and the fourth largest shareholder amongst the borrowing member countries (BMCs), Guyana has enjoyed a warm and rewarding relationship with the CDB.
He said the drafting and approval of a new Country Strategy Paper (CSP) for the period 2017-2021, reaffirms the strength and solidarity of the relationship between Guyana and the Bank.
“The programme of assistance, under the new CSP, responds to Guyana’s development priorities; supports Guyana in attaining the ambitious targets of the 2030 SDG agenda; and builds on the Government’s “Vision 2020”, which articulates a national goal of “sustainable socioeconomic development, good governance and human safety within a green economy.”
Jordan said in particular, the US$194 million programme will ensure improved quality and access to education and training; improved social sector outcomes; reduced vulnerability to natural disasters; improved capacity for strategic policy management and coordination and increased competitiveness and productivity of Guyana.
He said the programme also includes the “munificent gift of the Government of the United Kingdom, which will assist Guyana in its efforts to establish climate resilient infrastructure, including undertaking the first phase of the Guyana/Lethem Road Link.
“The paving of this critical thoroughfare is expected to enhance regional integration efforts and allow the Caribbean to tap into the enormous and vastly-unexplored markets of the South, whilst allowing the northern communities of Brazil access to the Atlantic Ocean through Port Georgetown, thereby expanding Brazil’s export earning potential.”
Jordan said that the British assistance will realise tangible outputs, which will redound to the benefit of the people of Guyana, the Caribbean region and further afield.
But Jordan said that whilst there is need to celebrate the many successes under the CDB-Guyana partnership, “we must be mindful of recent events that could undermine the progress made over the years.
“In this regard, it is with grave concern that I note the shortfall in the replenishment of the Special Development Fund (SDF), the Bank’s soft window of lending. The reduced size of the SDF would directly affect programmes under the Basic Needs Trust Fund (BNTF), which, easily, can be regarded as “the CDB’s flagship programme in Guyana”.
Jordan said the BNTF programme, over the years, has served as an impetus in improving living conditions in rural communities in Guyana and has assisted in reducing poverty levels through targeted interventions.
He said Guyana, therefore, urges the CDB to continue exploring avenues for bridging the financing gap that currently exists under this crucial fund. (CMC)