Letters & Opinion

A Brighter Future Beckons for Oil Dorado!

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Chronicles Of A Chronic Caribbean Chronicler By Earl Bousquet

Guyana opened 2023, still as the world’s fastest-growing oil-based economy, but even without Oil & Gas also ranked as the fifth-fastest globally, with every indication the emerging Oil Dorado will spend another year of successfully putting its oil resources to work for the wider good of the entire nation – and eventually the Caribbean.

Indeed, on December 31, 2022 and January 1, 2023, Al Jazeera, the globally-popular Qatar-based international news agency, closed the old year and opened the new with an interview with Guyana’s President Irfaan Ali on its Talk to Al Jazeera programme, during which he made it absolutely clear his PPP/CIVIC administration has clear and definitive plans for how to use the nation’s new and growing oil revenues wisely.

The year also opened with the World Bank’s latest report confirming not only Guyana’s 57% growth projection, but also maintaining its double-digit growth figures in 2023; and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) acknowledging the country’s non-oil sectors are performing better than expected.

Guyana’s growth is immediately evident to anyone who visits Georgetown today, noticeable from landing at the new-look and feel-good Cheddi Jagan International Airport featuring modern facilities, ten immigration booths and flawless duty free, baggage and customs arrangements.

Massive infrastructural projects are being funded with oil money, including building new highways with concrete (and not asphalt), the recently reconstructed Demerara Harbour Bridge (DHB) over the Demerara River that was recently dredged (at a cost of US $300 million) for an offshore base, new housing units, more businesses of all sizes and a thriving commercial sector greased by oil revenues.

Indeed, the administration allocated over 20,500 new house lots and established 44 new housing areas since taking office in August 2020; and China has lent Guyana US $172 million to help build an entirely new DHB.

The manufacturing sector is geared for exponential growth, tourism continues expanding with a massive increase in arrivals recorded in 2022, rice exports topped over US $100 million last year, the coconut industry got an additional boost – and the nation moved much-closer to cutting its $350 million eggs import bill.

Guyana earned US $1.2 billion in oil revenues in 2022, with projections for one million barrels per day by 2026 (and possible local earnings of G$ 6-7 trillion by 2035) and there’s growing global interest in Guyana on the part of both old and new energy companies.

Existing investors (Exxon/Mobil, Hess, CNOOC and CGX among the leaders) are increasing their investments while widening and deepening exploration and extraction, with Hess also signaling Guyana’s seventh oil platform to lift output above 1.2 million barrels; and Guyana has also secured its first payment from Hess for forest protection.

President Ali opened the year with a week-long visit to India, during which, among many other things, he reported much interest in Guyana’s oil sector, while the Guyana government has also opened the way for private companies to recruit Indian nationals for highly specialized roles in the Oil & Gas industry; and Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo will soon lead a technical team India to follow-up on the agreements initiated during President Ali’s visit.

Apart from successfully introducing Local Content legislation to ensure enough locals are involved in the industry, the administration also started 2023 inviting local farmers and agro-processors to form consortia to supply the Oil & Gas sector.

Here again, the energy sector is poised to continue to yield even more benefits in 2023 — and beyond — as explorations yield more ocean fields of oil.

The Ali administration remains intent on making oil revenues work for Guyanese across the country and across-the-board, offering guarantees that household incomes will continue to increase consistently, as the nation continues speeding along its path to new prosperity with sure signs of a brighter future for all.

The government also started the year announcing plans for a 2023-2024 budget that will reveal and fund more major transformative plans for the rest of its term — and way beyond; and the incredible pace of change for the better in the past two years has already started resulting in understandably growing popularity for the ruling PPP/CIVIC, according to published end-of-year opinion polls.

The nation also started 2023 with a continuation of registration for upcoming Local Government Elections set for March 13, which will mark exactly three years since the controversial 2020 presidential and parliamentary elections that saw the then ruling but defeated APNU/AFC Alliance hold on to office for five months later (until August 2020), after the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) ruled it had lost the poll and was unable to legally prove its claims to have won.

Interestingly, the AFC closed 2022 pulling out of the alliance with APNU and the two sides will not contest the LGE as one, but date will also represent the administration’s mid-term and the results an indication of how voters view the PPP/CIVIC’s tenure to date.

This year started with Guyana honouring St. Vincent & The Grenadines Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves with the nation’s highest honor, the Order of Roraima; and St. Vincent says it’ll also soon start importing houses from Guyana.

Guyana’s 2023 also opened with high hopes country-wide for better management of increasing flood risks, the government having recently acquired amphibious excavators to help drain the vast areas under water when the age-old Dutch irrigation system fails, largely due to historical neglect.

All in all, most Guyanese will admit they’ve started 2023 with more of the renewed hope and confidence garnered in 2021 and 2022 – not without the expected criticisms by those still in doubt or the eternal Doubting Thomases, but all within the context of a long-awaited yet largely unexpected recovery from the political, economic and social doldrums that characterized the past six decades, when Guyana was largely considered a basket case example of a failed state — so much so that a recent Guyana Chronicle editorial confidently heralded ‘A Brighter Future Beckons!’

Yes, Oil Dorado is on the up-and-up…

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