The Guyana government says it will establish a Petroleum Commission to ensure the oil and gas sector is not subjected to undue political interference.
“More importantly, we will ensure that every cent of the revenues from the sector is accounted for, as well as every cent of it that is spent,” President Dr. Irfaan Ali said at his Inauguration ceremony as Guyana’s ninth Executive President.
Ali told the ceremony there must be no doubt in the minds of the population that they are the beneficiaries of the oil and gas industry.
Guyana has joined the league of petroleum-producing nations with the official start of oil production at the Liza Phase 1 Development, announced on December 20 last year.
Ali said, to stimulate business enterprises, his administration will reduce the cost of energy by 50 percent through a mix of hydro, gas, solar, and wind, adding more than 400 megawatts of newly installed capacity over the next five years.
He said high transportation cost would also be tackled through investments in a deep-water harbor, the Linden to Lethem Road, a high-span bridge across the Demerara River, and other transformational infrastructure projects.
“Our intention is to open up every part of our country and to join them up so that new opportunities are created for housing settlements and businesses, and create and expand tourism and other services industries.
“We want to build a Guyana that is ripe with business opportunities, humming with employment expansion and growing perennially in prosperity. To aid all this, we will scale up the provision of internet access across the country, empowering businesses and persons.”
Ali said that a vital part will be to train the population to take advantage of the opportunities and the framework.
“Our goal is to facilitate jobs for every Guyanese that wants to work, and to provide them with the skills they need. That is why we will invest in training and re-training our workforce so that they can stake their claim in our nation’s prosperity.
“On this point, the workers of this countrY—the bedrock of our nation—have been made to suffer untold hardship. Once proud men who worked in the sugar industry from sun-up to sun down, are today barely scratching a living. Their anguish is not only that they can’t earn a decent wage; it is that they cannot feed their families.”
Ali said hunger and malnutrition abound and these conditions do not reflect the Guyana in which “we were raised; this is not the Guyana we know. And, it is certainly not a Guyana we should allow to continue.”
He said the sugar industry has virtually been abandoned in the past five years, and the workers have been deserted.
“No attempt has been made to seek a new path by which aspects of the industry could be salvaged for the production of profitable sugar-based niche products, that would maintain jobs, and by doing so maintain the dignity of labor.
“We intend to raise up the industry and to help it, and its workers resume the once proud place in our economy. It is bad enough that I must draw your attention to the sore in the sugar industry that has been allowed to fester— neglected and forsaken.”