If Guyana is to avoid the consequences that come with being heavily dependent on oil, then it must have a focused strategy for diversifying the economy says Trinidad and Tobago-based Energy and Strategy Advisor, Anthony Paul.
During a recent interview on Kaieteur Radio, the international consultant said that Guyana’s strategy must be underpinned by the thinking that its oil will not last forever. With this frame of mind, he said that one can begin to plan ways and means of building a resilient economy that will survive beyond oil.
Paul said, “So imagine Guyana’s oil revenue, as in Trinidad and Tobago, peaks to the point where it has carried most of government revenue, most of foreign exchange earnings, most of investments, and that dries up. What do you do? My thought is this; your strategy needs to say how Guyana can use the revenue to build a resilient economy, to build infrastructure, governance services and systems, and other economic sectors that would carry you beyond oil and gas.”
According to Paul, the opportunities for Guyana to diversify its economy are immense. In this regard, he noted that the country has a lot of capacity for agriculture and manufacturing while noting that the latter can be improved tremendously with cheaper sources of energy.
Further to this, Paul said that one of Guyana’s biggest bottlenecks has been lack of access to deepwater harbours and ports. With the oil money coming in, the international consultant said that Guyana can consider how part of the revenue can be used to build that infrastructure so it can be available for other industries down the road.
The Energy and Strategy Advisor said, “Guyana is geographically well located too. If you look at a map of shipping tracks, Guyana is well positioned at many major shipping routes. Guyana can become a transshipment hub, a storage facility, a manufacturing hub etc. So, someone has to think long-term and say, what does Guyana have to offer the world and its neighbours and how do we go about achieving it?”
Paul said it is crucial that Guyana’s authorities focus on building for the future and while ensuring that someone is held accountable for bringing that plan to fruition.