–Min. Bharrat says more can be done to add value to natural resources
MINISTER of Natural Resources Vickram Bharrat on Tuesday affirmed the government’s commitment to developing and sustaining the non-oil sectors, even though more can be done to add value to the country’s natural resources.
Minister Bharrat used the opportunity to outline the government’s plans for development in non-oil sectors during his address at the Guyana Manufacturing & Services Association Limited (GMSA)’s 2022 Business Luncheon at the Ramada Princess Hotel.
The minister said that President Dr. Irfaan Ali has on numerous occasions spoken of the government’s commitment to fostering growth in other sectors.
“As a government, we are committed to ensuring that we develop our non-oil sectors like forestry, mining and agriculture which will play a major role as we move forward as a country, and as we finally realise our potential as the breadbasket of the Caribbean,” Minister Bharrat said.
He went on to say that it is easy for any new oil and gas-producing nation to make the dreaded mistake of only focusing on oil and gas at the expense of other sectors, but that in years to come, sectors like agriculture and tourism will receive the necessary incentives, attention and management to ensure growth in a manner which presents opportunities to Guyanese, as well as local and international investors.
And while Guyanese will be at the forefront of development, the minister assured foreign investors that this would not be a hindrance to those seeking to come and do business in Guyana.
“As a matter of fact, we have stated that Guyana is open for business; that we need investment, and we need investors to come to Guyana,” Minister Bharrat said, adding that by the same token, while investors are welcome, opportunities must be presented to local businesses and to the local workforce.
With that, he said that whether it is through partnerships, joint ventures or otherwise, investors from beyond our borders are welcome in all sectors.
In investing, the Natural Resources Minister said investors must be cognisant of the need to add value to local products.
“Everywhere you go, people say Guyana is a rich country. Why they say that? We have a lot of natural resources: We have gold, we have diamond, we have bauxite, we have a wonderful forest, we have sand, we have loam. But why is it that Guyana has not really realised its true potential with its natural resources? Because, for too long, we have been exporting raw materials instead of value-added products,” Minister Bharrat said.
He related that this is an opportunity that exists for persons in and out of Guyana to add value to the country’s resources and export them.
According to the minister, he was made aware of a number of challenges which include access to capital, expertise, technology, power generation and more.
However, he mentioned that the government is working assiduously to address a number of these issues, with the major one being power generation.
He said: “Our government is seeking to address the biggest issue of power generation; the gas-to-energy project will address that issue.”
Additionally, Bharrat said that the gas-to-energy project will deliver cheaper and more reliable power.
The government will, however, not stop there, as there are already plans in place for the Amaila Falls Hydropower Project.
Together, the ‘hydro’ and gas projects, along with others will erase power generation as one of the issues affecting value added production.
Meanwhile, GMSA President Rafeek Khan told stakeholders that while Guyana has some of the rarest natural resources on the planet, the country needs to identify its niche, and work in those areas.
Khan said: “Let us move to the era of not being order takers of our products, but going out there for proactively promoting what are the niche products that we have in Guyana, and play to our strengths.”