On December 20, 2019, Guyana became a petroleum-producing nation, which signalled the beginning of a much-anticipated economic boom. President David Granger has said this major milestone in our country’s history will serve as a catalyst for development that will lead to an enhanced standard of living for all Guyanese.
President Granger and the Government of Guyana has earmarked the next ten years, the ‘Decade of Development: 2020-2029’ as one which will bring unprecedented economic growth, massive infrastructural development, and equal access to education. This is Government in Action and this is the ‘Decade of Development’.
The foundation for the future
“Guyanese can expect a higher quality of life over the next five years. We are looking beyond 2020. We are laying plans for the future. We are planning for improvements in our lives in the form of:
• Economic growth which will accelerate as production increases and the major sectors become stronger and more resilient; farmers and fishers benefitting from the modernisation and diversification of their sectors; miners enjoying safer mining practices;
• Education and healthcare which will continue to improve; information and communications technology will be extended countrywide to link all regions and communities;
• Employment opportunities which will be available; citizens having larger disposable incomes and public servants’ emoluments continuing to grow to improve their standard of living;
• Public infrastructure which will continue to be rehabilitated, upgraded and expanded; and more housing for low-income families,” the Head of State said.
• Energy supply will be extended to more rural and hinterland communities; manufacturing enterprises will be catalysed by more reliable electricity; and the generation of electricity from sustainable sources will be expanded,” he said.
President Granger, in his address on the observance of the New Year 2020, officially announced the launch of the ‘Decade of Development’ which he defines as a ten-year plan to accelerate Guyana’s transformation into a ‘green state’, a ‘digital state’, a ‘petroleum state’, and an ‘education nation’.
“The first transformative process involves the transition towards becoming a ‘green state’ that will emphasise the preservation and protection of the environment and the graduation towards greater value-added production. The second will be the development of a ‘digital state’, which will connect every region, neighbourhood, village, community and government agency, generate ICT services and make public services more accessible.
The third will be the emergence of an ‘education nation’, characterised by every child attending primary school, every child graduating from secondary school and the country having a more highly educated workforce. The fourth will be the beginning of petroleum production which will result in faster economic growth, increased employment and economic opportunities and larger fiscal revenues. We can expect to live in a gentle, green and good country, during the ‘Decade of Development’ as a result of these changes,” President Granger said.
President Granger said that from the Decade of Development Guyanese can expect to see major economic growth and job creation, free education from nursery to tertiary with major investment in our teachers; improved healthcare, safe and thriving communities, and a country marked by its modern infrastructure.
The Decade of Development is particularly important, the Head of State said, as investments made during the ‘Decade’ will put Guyana on an upward development trajectory, beyond the petroleum sector. The President highlighted this point during his address to youth at the first Youth Empowerment Summit, which was held in Linden, Upper-Demerara – Berbice (Region Ten).
“All around the world people are moving away from petroleum and you better learn that lesson that petroleum, whatever bonanza, whatever profits, whatever revenues we get, will not last forever. So, we have to put in place the type of development that would take us beyond petroleum. That is why I deliberately choose a ‘Decade of Development’, not a year of development [but] a decade because by 2030 this country must be must more developed than it is at present… [Oil] wouldn’t last forever. Even some of the most productive petroleum countries now have the most successful solar energy generation plants. Some of the countries producing the most petroleum are also producing the most electricity from solar energy,” he said.
While addressing attendees at Queen’s College 175th anniversary celebration, which was observed in October, President Granger said special curricular emphasis on Information and Communications Technology (ICT) will fuel the kind of development that will sustain all of Guyana’s sectors long after petroleum.
“Information [and] communications technology will be the means through which the country will become more fully interconnected and integrated; ICT education is essential to equipping and preparing students for the knowledge-based industries of the present and future. ICT development will transform the economy. It will to add value to our service sectors, diversify the economy away from overdependence on primary production, move manufacturing up the value chain and tap into larger external markets. The ‘Decade of Development’ will introduce transformative changes in education, particularly in science education. These changes will enhance schools’ scientific infrastructure – classrooms, and laboratories; increase resources available to schools’ administrators and improve opportunities for science and technology education for students and teachers,” President Granger said.
President Granger also added that the ‘Decade of Development’ will see a level field of educational opportunities emerge between the hinterland and the coastland.
“Education will be a cornerstone of the ‘Decade’ which will continue the task of repositioning education which commenced four years ago. Education is now moving on the correct path. More than G$170 billion have been expended on education over the past four years. Expenditure on the public education sector moved from 14.8 per cent of the national budget in 2014 to 17.0 per cent in 2017… The ‘Decade’ will help to eliminate the educational inequalities between the hinterland and coastland by devoting more resources to hinterland education. It will allow the training of a greater number of hinterland teachers; offer improved student accommodation and transportation; and establish more hinterland schools and other educational institutions,” he said.
In 1996, the Government of Guyana reserved 371,000 hectares of rainforest for lasting ecological management. The Iwokrama International Centre for Rainforest Conservation and Development is proof of Guyana’s commitment to eco-tourism, sustainable forestry, and the fight against climate change.
“During our ‘Decade of Development: 2020-2029’, envisages Iwokrama as a ‘living’ repository of the country’s unsurpassable biodiversity. Iwokrama will become the home of all of Guyana’s rich and diverse flora and fauna. Government will establish, at Iwokrama, a world-class centre of excellence for students and researchers interested in increasing their knowledge of our essential ecosystems,” the President said.
The Head of State also said that during the ‘Decade’ Guyana will honour its commitments to place an additional two million hectares under conservation, a commitment made under the Paris Agreement, to pursue measures that preserve Guyana’s biodiversity and ecosystem services, and to promote policies that reduce deforestation, improve timber-monitoring, and promote low emission, low-carbon development of the country’s natural resources.
President Granger sees Guyana leading the world in this sector.
“Guyana has been a trailblazer in global environmental protection. Iwokrama has demonstrated how small states can punch above their weight in offering solutions to global environmental problems,” he said.
These are some of the areas that President Granger and the Government of Guyana have targeted for explosive development in the next ten years. First oil, and the establishment of the oil and gas sector has given Guyana momentum. Through sound leadership and continued prudent management of our resources, Guyana will continue to gain momentum as it emerges into a ‘green state’ and the gateway to South America.