Vice President Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo recently clarified that Hess Corporation along with revered United States academic and economist, Michael Porter do not have a hand in crafting Guyana’s national development strategy building on its oil resources; but rather, are lending their technical skills and connections with the modernisation of key State services.
Mr. Jagdeo recalled that Porter had arrived in Guyana prior to the 2020 elections where he and a team were providing advice to the previous administration on the development of a national development strategy and a competition strategy.
The new People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) Government upon speaking with Porter made it clear that it did not need assistance in that regard as one was already articulated in its National Competitiveness Strategy (NDS) which outlined broad proposals on developing the traditional sectors, such as rice and bauxite. That plan was in place more than a decade ago.
The VP said, “When we saw what they were suggesting, it was almost replicating a lot of those issues we already addressed. Porter and his team were hired by Hess and when they examined our documents, they saw it was in line with their thinking too.”
“So, we then said, ‘How could we use Porter?’ Because he has enormous skills and connections and a bright group of technical people… One of the first things we said we want to do is make the citizens’ experience with state agencies better. So, they have reviewed for us how to improve processes for getting a building permit for example. Those reports are complete and with us.”
On this note, he summarised that Porter and his team are helping the administration modernise State processes and the way government functions.
As for Hess’ involvement, he was keen to note that the Chief Executive Officer, John Hess is also very influential while noting that he sits on the Board of Mount Sinai Hospital which is ranked No. 1 in the New York metropolitan region and No. 19 among hospitals in the world.
Dr. Jagdeo said Hess was responsible for having a team from the hospital visit Guyana. Discussions were held with key local health sector professionals. The official said the Mount Sinai team intends to help Guyana with its health planning processes and the modernisation of its procedures. A review of Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation is also underway.
The Vice President said Hess is paying for a substantial part of that but not from the Stabroek Block’s cost oil bank.
Hess which holds a 30% stake in the Stabroek Block has said it plans to invest US$2.6 billion in 2022, of which 80% will be allocated to Guyana and the Bakken shale formation in the US. The amount represents a 36.8% increase from the $1.9 billion capital expenditure announced for 2021.
Additionally, Hess and its Stabroek Block co-venturers ExxonMobil Guyana and CNOOC Petroleum Guyana Limited, are implementing the Greater Guyana Initiative which provides GY$20 billion (US$100 million) for capacity development programmes over the next 10 years.
This represents a significant expansion of ongoing capacity-building efforts in the country and demonstrates a long-term commitment by the Stabroek Block co-venturers to help further development in Guyana.
With a focus on education and training, economic development and health, the initiative aims to strengthen the Guyanese workforce, increase the competitiveness of local businesses across sectors and lay the foundation necessary for a thriving business environment and sustained economic growth.