“Oil is not the only thing happening to Guyana,” declared Business Minister Dominic Gaskin, as he addressed the Canadian Oil and Gas Trade Mission at the Guyana Marriott Hotel on Tuesday.
Minister Gaskin said even with the large amounts of revenue to be earned when oil production begins in 2020, the government remains committed to diversifying the economy and intends to pump money into several other sectors.
“I don’t want you to think oil is not the only thing happening to Guyana. There are other priority sectors which the government will promote and that we will like to see placed on developmental trajectory before the production of oil begins,” he said.
The Minister said there are lessons to be learned from the country’s historical dependence on sugar, bauxite, rice, and gold to fuel economic growth.
“This has made us vulnerable to external price fluctuations that we cannot control. It places all our eggs in one basket and when that basket drops we all suffer. So we are anxious to avoid this happening again with oil,” he added.
Gaskin said the food industry is one of those important industries to the country with Guyana being fairly self-sufficient in growing staples. To this end, he proposed directing investment towards increasing production and processing.
Another area where investment will be directed towards is the natural and pristine tourism sector. Mr. Gaskin said too that the government intends to make an investment in all the value added sectors associated with raw materials produced here.
He said government fully understands the need to diversify the economy and also reminded of the development of a strategy to ensure Guyana becomes a Green State.
Gaskin said not withstanding this the government remains committed to the development of a local content policy that will ensure Guyanese benefit fully from the oil and gas proceeds and opportunities.
“Guyana is new to oil and gas. We are on a steep learning curve and in some areas we are playing catch up with industry. The discovery of oil has brought excitement to the country and almost every day there is lively debates and high level of interest,” he added.
Gaskin said there is no shortage of opinions on what government needs to do to ensure Guyanese become beneficiaries of what is a huge long term private sector investment.
He assured that government understands the transformational nature of the project and remains committed to diversification and ensuring that Guyanese benefit.