Georgetown, Guyana – (August 5, 2016) President David Granger, last evening, called on the business community and the rest of the nation to capitalise on new economic sectors, which will emerge as Guyana transitions into an oil and gas economy, even as the country seeks to create a balanced and diversified ‘green’ economy.
The President, in his feature address at the launch of GAICO Construction and General Services Incorporated’s Oil Spill Services at GAICO’s Wharf at Nismes, West Bank Demerara, praised the company on its “forward-thinking” initiative. He said with this venture, GAICO is positioning itself to benefit from Guyana’s emerging petroleum sector.
“Foresight and entrepreneurship will allow local businesses to benefit from local content. Strategic partnerships with regional and international firms will enhance the capability of local firms, through the transfer of knowledge and technology. The production of petroleum will create opportunities, but will not end our economic challenges. We cannot afford, therefore, to fold our hands and simply wait for the anticipated bonanza. We must to continue to build a balanced and diversified economy,” President Granger said.
Despite the discovery of oil in Guyana and the expected production by the beginning of 2020, the President said that notwithstanding the local petroleum sector, Guyana will continue to pursue its ‘green’ agenda. This ‘green’ agenda, therefore, he said, will open multiple avenues for entrepreneurship in ‘green’ construction, ‘green’ employment, ‘green’ enterprises, environmental services, sustainable energy generation, coastal zone management, solid waste management, wildlife management and protected areas systems.
“An entrepreneurial culture will allow Guyana to develop world-class products and services in a ‘green’ economy. It will enable our economy to become more resilient and less susceptible to exogenous shocks. Guyana, for the past century, has been susceptible to such shocks because of its reliance on the ‘six sisters’; bauxite, fish, gold, rice, sugar and timber. The production of these primary products was an inheritance from Independence. The structure of the productive relations, at the time, dominated by foreign multinationals and small, family-owned businesses, limited the emergence of an extensive entrepreneurial culture,” he said.
The Head of State noted that that while the culture of entrepreneurship has certainly blossomed; it is not yet blooming fully and needs to be encouraged further so that it can accentuate balanced development across all regions. This culture must be built on four pillars, the President said.
“Information is essential for entrepreneurs to make informed decisions and to accurately assess risks. Infrastructure, both physical and technological, contributes to improved competitiveness… Innovation is at the heart of increased global competiveness. Guyana’s entrepreneurs must learn to innovate and to innovate constantly if they are to achieve and retain competitive advantages. Investment is vital to promoting a vibrant entrepreneurial culture. We will ensure greater access to credit, including micro credit and we will encourage greater investment in the economy so as to stimulate entrepreneurial activity,” the President said.
One of the vessels that will be used in the Oil Spill Response Services
These four pillars, he further noted, will lay the foundation for entrepreneurial zeal and dynamism in Guyana.
“An entrepreneurial culture will expedite the diversification of our services and productive bases in order to reduce our dependence on the exports of primary commodities and to enhance our competitiveness in other goods and services. That entrepreneurial culture is on display here, today, at GAICO on the West Bank Demerara,” President Granger said.
Meanwhile, Chief Executive Officer of GAICO, Mr. Komal Singh, said that the company, anticipating the production of oil in Guyana a few years from now, saw that this critical service was absent from the marketplace in Guyana. Noting that such services are critical, Mr. Singh said that he jumped on the opportunity to introduce it here.
“Our company will continue to work closely with the Government to help build Guyana by investing in opportunities so as to build local capacity with a view to create sustainable employment. Our company is ready to take up the challenges, which will come with this new sector. Our country can only grow if we collectively attempt to create sustainable growth in the private sector. Such growth, with support from Government, will create an environment for investment. We must commend the Government since to date, we have seen significant progress in this direction… We must prepare ourselves now so that when oil and gas is here, we are ready,” he said.
Mr. Komal Singh in discussion with President David Granger at the launch of the Oil Spill Response operation, earlier this afternoon.
Chairman of the Private Sector Commission, Mr. Edward Boyer, said that while the sector is entirely new to Guyana and the private sector, it is heartening to see businessmen taking advantage of the opportunities from this early stage. He recognised Government’s effort in creating a level playing field for investors while providing the environment for businesses to grow.
“We learn very fast. In the years gone by, we have seen expatriate companies building roads in Guyana. Today, companies like GAICO Construction are doing that and employing local people. Government’s position to treat all investors in the same manner is a step in the right direction. It doesn’t matter whether they are local or foreign, large or small. It’s refreshing to see companies like GAICO are not waiting for production to come on stream before they pursue related businesses,” the Chairman said.
Minister of Social Protection, Ms. Volda Lawrence, Minister within the Ministry of Social Protection, Mr. Keith Scott also attended the launching.