In my opinion, 2020 is the year that brings a renewal of hope for Guyana. With the production of oil, the upcoming General and Regional Elections and the commemoration of the country’s 50th anniversary as a Cooperative Republic, there are unique and distinct opportunities for Guyana to revisit and, if necessary, revamp how development is approached.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has predicted that Guyana’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) could grow by 86 percent in 2020. They, however, cautioned that this forecast may be subject to large revisions, since even small changes to the projected oil output in 2020 could potentially result in major changes in the overall economic performance. Added to that, a recent World Oil report noted that with these current projected operation outcomes, “Guyana, with a population of less than 800,000, may end up producing more crude per person than any other country in the world.” This means, ceteris paribus, Guyana may be one of the richer countries in the world on a per capita basis.
In spite of this, Guyana finds itself in a precarious situation. Over the past few years, Guyana’s leadership has attempted to ensure that the country adopts more environmentally conscious policies, by trying to engage in sustainable ways of tapping into the country’s natural patrimony. Cognisant of this, it can be argued that the production of oil and gas may come into direct conflict with that, particularly on the front of using more renewable energy sources as opposed to fossil fuels.
As much as we may not want to admit it, or as much as we will try to direct focus otherwise, I believe that the extraction and production of oil and gas will be the central part of this country’s development. Naturally, the “resource curse” or “dutch disease” is one that we should be wary of. With this, the “booming” tradable resource (oil) can lead to the appreciation of an economy’s real exchange rate, but as a result of this, it is possible that the non-tradable export sectors (i.e., sectors such as agriculture for example) can record reduced performance reciprocally.
However, through the current long-term economic development policy articulated, the Green State Development Strategy (GSDS), it has been outlined that the revenues garnered from the petroleum industry will be channelled into all things ‘green’ and is expected to foster the development of industries that will propel sustainable economic growth. What this means is that in any sector that will be developed further, or even be newly developed, it is expected that this development will be maintained at a certain rate or level, in a way that is not to the detriment of the natural patrimony.
Long-term policies, however, may be dependent upon who is in government to actualise these policies. And now with General and Regional Elections occurring this March, it remains to be seen what policies will be used to propel Guyana. Will it be the same ones articulated now? Will there be a change? We will just have to wait until the post-March 2 period to find out. One thing is for sure, however: Guyana is irrevocably in pursuit of sustainable development.
Now, let me factor in Guyana’s Republic anniversary. Though not entirely well-known, Guyana’s achievement of a ‘Cooperative Republic’ status is underpinned by a shift in the guiding economic philosophy, indicated by the word “cooperative.” This shift was intended to help diversify the economy and spur economic growth in a way that would empower the masses. It called for the distribution of wealth but required that each person had a role in generating this wealth. Effectively, this was a socialist philosophy articulated.
With Econ 1001: Introduction to Microeconomics course being the only Economics course I have done so far, I am definitely not the most qualified person to speak on the merits or demerits of socialism; and, economic ideologies always seem to be contentious talk. If anything though, I do believe that coming 50 years from when this avenue of economic development was pursued should tell a tale of what avenues of development have worked for Guyana, and what avenues have not. As a country, we should be able to look back at the past 50 years and determine our trajectory for the next 50 years. That, for me, is the brilliance of observing our 50th Anniversary as a Cooperative Republic at this juncture of our development.
I daresay, these occurrences and the pervasion of hope that they bring for Guyanese, seem almost cosmic in nature. I think the alignment of these three major events in the first few months of 2020 must be influenced by some sort of cosmic alignment, you know? Almost as though this could be the “One Destiny” being alluded to all these years.
While I probably have no way of substantiating those celestial theories, I do know that 2020 is seen as the watershed year for Guyana’s development. I really hope that in the months ahead, we really ‘hold ah focus’ because what takes place in these upcoming months may very well set the tone for the rest of the decade.