Media representative: … In Guyana’s waters. Your reaction to that, sir?
President David Granger: Well, obviously we are interested in developing our petroleum sector. Well, of course, it is non-existent we have had bauxite for a hundred years and gold and diamond mining. So, it is a very important advance and it will contribute to the quality of life of our people when revenue starts to flow.
Media representative: Will this, you believe, spark a new round of disputes with Venezuela over who owns what?
President David Granger: There is no dispute. Venezuela has claimed our territory since from the time of independence for 50 years and we are in discussions with the Secretary-General of the United Nations so that this matter could be taken to the [International Court of Justice] ICJ. We are looking for a juridical settlement to this controversy. It has been going on for 50 years even before we got independence. So we are aware of the Venezuelan claim on our territory, but it was something that preceded the Exxon announcement.
Media representative: Even as the Exxon announcement has been made what would you say to the Guyanese people about the country’s energy future in the wake of Exxon’s latest finds?
President David Granger: Well, we have a balanced view and we expect that some of the proceeds from the petroleum industry will go into the Sovereign Wealth Fund and we will use the surpluses to develop our infrastructure and our education system.
So we are quite mature and we know what we are going to do when the revenue starts to flow. So what I have to say to the Guyanese people is that they can look forward to a higher quality of life.
Media representative: CARICOM takes forever to do things President and…
President David Granger: I must say, I don’t agree with that.
Media representative: You don’t agree with that? No, well fine then the perception is that CARICOM takes forever to do things. Do you see Grenada, Guyana rather playing a greater role in a different kind of CARICOM in the next decade?
President David Granger: Well the headquarters of CARICOM is in Guyana and we are working to resolve all of the difficulties that might have impeded growth. I told the Heads today that Guyana and Suriname together are bigger than Germany.
So they must regard these two large CARICOM States as being part of the hinterland of the Caribbean and we are open for business. We are open for investment; we are open for development and we are all part of one Community.
So Guyana’s land space, Suriname’s land space and our resources: petroleum, gold, diamond, bauxite are all part of the Caribbean patrimony and I want to see us develop together.
Media representative: Last year you invited the Caribbean States to look, invest in Guyana. You said it was open for business…. What else do you want to say on that call given that you are now in office; you now know that architecture of government and how it works? Is that invitation still extended?
President David Granger: It is still extended because the states of the Caribbean, particularly Trinidad, Jamaica, Barbados, have well-developed business communities and tomorrow I will be going into our hinterland with one of the CARICOM Prime Ministers to show them the possibilities. We’re going into the Rupununi region [which] is bigger than Costa Rica so I am sure that they are interested. I am sure that they will be able to take the message back to their countrymen in the business sector to see Guyana and Suriname as well as a new horizon for development in agriculture and tourism.
We’ve got the best eco-tourism product on the continent. So, I expect that in years to come we will be seeing a lot of development with our Caribbean colleagues.
Media representative: Are nationals of other Caribbean countries, President, welcome to Guyana? Experts say that it’s the next best thing; in ten to fifteen years this economy is going to be the beacon of CARICOM.
President David Granger: Exactly. We’ve got Brazilians here; we’ve got Chinese here; we’ve got Russians here; we’ve got Canadians here. Why not other Caribbean countries?