Guyana is less than two years away from becoming a major oil producing economy and Chief Executive Officer of the CARICOM Development Fund (CDF), Rodinald Soomer, said the imminent revenue expected from this development could change the South American country’s economic status.
“I certainly don’t want to speculate but if the economic growth prospects turn out to be as positive as we expect it could be that the status of Guyana may change,” he said, adding, “As of now, Guyana, as per the revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, is still recognized as a highly indebted poor country.”
Mr. Soomer was speaking at the time in Guyana’s capital, Georgetown, at the signing of an MOU.
Referring to the possibility of Guyana’s status changing after first oil in 2020, Soomer said within the context of the CDF and the overall CARICOM framework, “Guyana might become less of a net beneficiary in the sense it may be able to provide more resources on its own to meet its development programme and may very well choose to request less support from CDF.”
The CDF usually works on the basis of a five year cycle and it was only in 2016 that Guyana approached the fund for assistance and was granted a loan of 10 million US dollars to revitalize farming in four communities. These are Ithaca, West Coast Berbice; Triumph and Buxton, East Coast Demerara and Mocha, East Bank Demerara.
He said it is due to this fact that the Fund may not be able to render any further assistance to the country, if required before the cycle is up.
“Our current cycle is ending in 2020 and Guyana was one of the first countries that applied to the CDF in this cycle and we approved their country programme very early in the cycle so all of their resources are already committed so there is simply not enough space within the programme now to support the emerging oil industry.”
He said, “However, as we approach 2020 and we get ready to get into the third cycle of funding for the CDF it is really up to Guyana to determine whether amongst its strategic priorities where they would like the CDF to support Guyana in this emerging industry.”
The CDF head said when the time is right; it will be ready to support Guyana in its development. “I am not sure if they have given any thought as to what their third country programme would be but we will be more than happy to support in that sector.”
The CARICOM Development Fund is an institution of the Caribbean Community, which is mandated to provide financial or technical assistance to disadvantaged countries, regions and sectors in the Community.
In this capacity, the CDF is central to addressing the disparities among the Member States of CARICOM, which may result from the implementation of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy.