Georgetown, Guyana – (November 10, 2019) Director, Department of Energy, Dr. Mark Bynoe, urged Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo (Region Nine) residents, particularly the youth, to draft community development plans for their respective villages, in order to benefit from the opportunities and revenues that will emerge from the petroleum sector.

He also reiterated the importance of pursuing higher education and training certification.

Dr. Bynoe made these statements during an Interactive Session on Oil and Gas, which was hosted on Friday in the St. Ignatius Benab. Residents from several villages, including Lethem, Aranaputa Valley, Aishalton, Surama and Nappi participated. Additionally, over 150 students from the St. Ignatius Secondary School, accompanied by five teachers; 53 students from the Arapaima Primary School, accompanied by two teachers and 35 students from the St. Ignatius Primary School, accompanied by their teacher, also participated in the session.

Dr. Bynoe said individuals must develop their personal skills and initiate community projects, as outside of funding for capital programmes and education, revenues will only be disbursed for investment.

“One of the things I keep saying is let’s [put] plans in place because funds will …go into the Natural Resources Fund. A portion then goes to the Consolidated Fund. Now from that Consolidated Fund is where your spending will come so if you are able to make representation, to show [that] you have a strategic vision of where you wish to take your village, your region, your community that will be [considered],” he said.

Dr. Bynoe also said that the oil operators provide US$300,000 annually, in fulfilment of their corporate social responsibility, from which funds can be drawn to finance community projects.

“To date, Guyana has about US$900,000 sitting, waiting to be spent on community-type projects. All that we have asked is that those projects be aligned with the Government’s development strategy so it is up to us to come up with initiatives… If [there is] a sustainable livelihood project that you want to pursue for your community, you can engage with us; we can provide you with advice, we can provide you with the template and help you to develop a project which can ultimately be funded,” he said.

Meanwhile, Council for Technical and Vocational Educational Training (CTVET) Monitoring Inspector, Mr. Seon Hamer noted that the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) has recognised that almost 70 per cent of the Region’s labour force is uncertified and there is a great demand for skills.

“What TVET is hoping to do is bridge the gap between the skills offered in technical institutes and training centres to meet the demands of the labour market because we have recognised that the skills coming out of the training centres are not matching the demands of the labour market,” he said.

Further, there will continue to be a great demand for flexible and skilled labour that would allow persons to become competitive in the job market. In this vein, Mr. Hamer said work is being done at the Bina Hill Development Centre and at the St. Ignatius Secondary School to advance technical education in the region.

Through collaboration with the Ministry of Education, Mr. Hamer said plans are in train to offer TVET programmes in secondary schools across the region. This programme will soon be piloted in the St. Ignatius Secondary School. Additionally, through collaboration with the Ministry of Indigenous People’s Affairs, plans are in train to build a Green Development Centre at Annai to facilitate training specific to the oil sector.

During the interactive session, Mr. Mark Rodrigues, a resident of St. Ignatius Village and Ms. Leontine Jose, both welcomed these developments, noting that they were several skilled persons in the region who lacked certification. Another resident, Mr. Floyd Peters, Overseer of Aranaputa Valley, commended the Department of Energy for the informative session.

Chairman of the Regional Democratic Council (RDC), Mr. Brian Allicock; Toshao of St. Ignatius, Mr. Dennis Benedict; Town Clerk, Ms. Keisha Vincent; Regional Executive Officer, Ms. Audrey Gomes; RDC councillors and staff; Ministry of the Presidency, Permanent Secretary, Ms. Abena Moore; Office Manager and Petroleum Geologist at the Department of Energy, Ms. Sharon Patterson and Ms. Marissa Foster, along with staff from the Ministry also attended the session.

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