–President Ali says
NOTING that the oil and gas industry has put Guyana in a unique position, President Irfaan Ali on Tuesday said that the country now has the resources to transform its economy, help its people, and make a valuable contribution to the rest of the world.
These comments were included in the keynote address he delivered at the opening of the 2022 International Energy Conference and Expo.
Over 650 delegates, attending virtually and physically, and some 150 businesses are participating in the event which ends on Friday. It is being held at the Marriott Hotel in Kingston.
“The energy and oil and gas gives us the resources to diversify our economy, so we can be resilient and strong. We never had the capital to build the diversified economy that we are talking about. Today, with hard work, we have the ability to make that giant leap, not only for Guyana, but for all of humanity, and we must do it,” President Ali said.
He also addressed Guyana’s unique position as a global champion of environmental preservation, while simultaneously being at the forefront of oil and gas development.
“Our development trajectory attempts to strike a balance between economic development and preservation of the environment. Our development trajectory prioritises people-centred development,” President Ali emphasised.
While using the occasion to defend the country’s need to leverage its oil and gas resources, the Head of State said that the revenue garnered from the sector, coupled with bilateral partnerships and investments, will be used to diversify industries.
He singled out the agriculture, manufacturing and tourism sectors as being among those that stand to benefit.
One of the key areas in which the proceeds from oil and gas can contribute to bolstering the diversification of other industries is through investment in energy-generating initiatives. These can be used to drastically reduce the cost of energy in Guyana and the wider region.
“We will remain uncompetitive if we cannot address the cost of energy. We must address the cost of energy; our private sector will not grow. Bringing down the cost of energy is about creating the space and opportunities for the development of a world-class manufacturing and agro-processing sector,” President Ali told those seated before him.
Before noting that Guyana is strategically positioned to create regional energy security, he said there are a number of energy projects in the works, including an energy corridor with Brazil and Suriname.
He emphasised that development for Guyana means development for the region.
“Guyana’s prosperity is linked to our region’s prosperity. Indeed, it is our shared vision and common approach that will ensure all of our people benefit,” he said as he concluded his speech.
Meanwhile, the need for a balance between environment preservation and economic development through fossil fuel, and the need for climate financing to compensate small state countries were among the key issues raised by the Heads of State who spoke during the opening ceremony.
Also delivering remarks were the President of Suriname, Chandrikapersad Santokhi; President of Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo, and Prime Minister of Barbados, Mia Mottley.
PM Mottley echoed some of President Ali’s remarks in her address. They both received resounding applause, and even a standing ovation from the packed audience, as they touched on the vulnerability of small nation states to climate change, and defended the adverse global financing that demands that such states develop their natural resources.
PM Mottley supported the idea of local content for Guyana’s petroleum sector, and highlighted the importance of citizens being given the opportunity to benefit from the patrimony of their country.
“You cannot move from being a highly indebted poor country to being where you are today without being given the opportunity first to bring along your people who have suffered the indignity of that poverty for decades,” she said before touching on the importance of participating in global discussions that will help a country to manage the development of its citizens.
She expressed hope that the conference will trigger that international conversation.
In also speaking on the need for a balance between climate change and economic development, Ghana’s President noted that, “the effective management of these resources will determine if we make it or not.”
President Akufo-Addo congratulated the Government of Guyana for their swift action in putting a local content legislative framework in place.
During his remarks, President Santokhi said there needs to be some focus on how energy could transform the lives of people and economies.