EU releases $19.8B grant to Guyana
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EU Ambassador to Guyana, Fernando Ponz Canto, looks on as President, Dr. Irfaan Ali addresses members of
the media at the diplomat’s Bel Air Springs, Georgetown residence on Thursday (Adrian Narine photo)
EU Ambassador to Guyana, Fernando Ponz Canto, looks on as President, Dr. Irfaan Ali addresses members of the media at the diplomat’s Bel Air Springs, Georgetown residence on Thursday (Adrian Narine photo)

–will contribute to inclusive and sustainable development

AN enabling environment and political stability have encouraged the European Union (EU) to disburse $19.8 billion (approximately US$92 million) to Guyana, to aid in inclusive and sustainable development as the country moves forward with its agenda to create a better life for all.
Guyana was initially in line to receive this support under the EU’s “budget support programme” last year, but political instability and uncertainty had discouraged the bloc from releasing funds to this country.

Cheers to cooperation! President, Dr. Irfaan Ali and EU Ambassador to Guyana, Fernando Ponz Canto

The uncertainty and turbulence followed the passage of a no-confidence motion tabled in the National Assembly in December 2018 by then opposition People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) against the former A Partnership for National Unit + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) administration.
A prolonged period of litigation, and a protracted electoral process had deteriorated Guyana’s image and reduced the credibility of the nation. But the country, since the completion of the protracted process, has been able to rebuild this image and receive funds that will assist in the development of this nation.
This disbursement was described as timely by President, Dr. Irfaan Ali, who said Guyana is receiving these funds at a time when the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues to constrain economic growth and advancement.

“It is coming at a time when mobilising resources is difficult. Globally, the pandemic has caused tremendous socio-economic hardships, but also tremendous financial constraints; these constraints have affected countries negatively.
“The state of indebtedness has worsened; the ability to repay debt has worsened, and there is a global call for rescheduling loans and loan payments,” said President Ali during a press briefing at the EU Ambassador, Fernando Ponz Canto’s residence on Thursday.
Despite those overarching challenges, the Government has been able to mobilise resources for Guyana.

Senior Minister with responsibility for Finance in the Office of the President, Dr. Ashni Singh

“Every single day since I took office, there has been direct communication; bureaucracy has been removed, and strong commitments would have been made from both sides to see the success of our programme, and to ensure that governance is delivered in a structure that ensures democracy, constitutional rule and… issues we have to deal with in the future,” said President Ali.
The Head of State assured that the Government is committed to diversification, economic strengthening and the reduction of economic risks.
Attention, he said, will be placed on agricultural diversification, industrialisation, manufacturing, and the development of sustainable energy, the linking of all economic prospects with the region, the integration of infrastructure and the creation of synergies.

MOVING FORWARD

“Guyana will move forward in a progressive manner… Something that is most crucial is the regaining of the country’s credibility; a lot of emphasis and time has been placed on rebuilding that credibility… This [the EU disbursement] goes a long way in portraying the new Guyana, and regaining that credibility,” said President Ali. According to a statement from the EU, the union is a very important grant donor in Guyana, and together both sides have arrived at a consolidated, privileged partnership for development cooperation in the form of Budget Support. “Budget Support is a proof of trust, and of a true partnership as the funds are channelled through the national treasury and implemented by the Government of Guyana, under agreed indicators,” said the EU. The overall amount of the EU Budget Support for the Integrated Coastal Management (2017-2021) is $74.5 billion. This latest payment brings the total grant funds released since 2017 to $51. 6 billion. This payment is made possible by the fulfillment by Guyana of a comprehensive and demanding set of requirements. This, the EU said, should provide a major contribution to the inclusive and sustainable development of the country, and substantial fiscal

space for the country finances, in the context of an unprecedented COVID-19 crisis.Senior minister with responsibility for Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh said the previous PPP/C administration had worked hard to become eligible for budget support. “We did so by demonstrating macro-economic stability… Coming from a background of fiscal instability and insolvency, we have demonstrated that we have solid systems for managing public finances,” Dr. Singh said. The minister assured that Guyana will preserve an environment to ensure that the country remains eligible for budget support. “We intend to work hard to qualify for every Euro dollar we receive… This will help to finance important budgetary initiatives; we are firmly committed to ensuring not only the creation and preservation of an environment that is conducive to the diversified economic growth that we refer to, we are firmly committed to securing a vibrant non-oil economy,” said Dr. Singh. Ambassador Canto advised Guyana to maintain a diversified economy, even though the country has inherited new-found oil wealth. There have been talks that Guyana does not need support because it is the newest oil-producing nation, but this, the ambassador said, is far from the truth. Guyana has many needs, and the EU stands ready to support Guyana on fulfilling those needs.

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