The errors made by Trinidad and Tobago and Venezuela in the management of their hydrocarbon resources must be a warning to Guyana that if similar decisions are made, the failure of the economy is almost guaranteed.
Guyana’s Minister of Natural Resources, Vickram Bharrat said signs of the Dutch disease had started to appear in the economy over the last five years due to the previous administration’s neglect of traditional sectors.
“We don’t want the Dutch Disease to overtake us,” he said on a recently broadcast television programme. “We have seen that happening over the last five years where the Dutch disease was kind of creeping up on us, where the government was neglecting, if I may use that word, the traditional productive sectors, for oil and gas.”
He said the mistakes made by T&T and Venezuela are clear for all to see and Guyana must take careful note if it is to avoid the same fate.
“We need to learn from their mistakes. Oil and gas is new to all of us in Guyana. It’s still in its infant stage, if I may say so. So, it’s new to almost all of us but we have an advantage where we can learn from the mistakes of other oil producing countries, especially close by to us like Trinidad and Venezuela,” Mr. Bharrat said.
He emphasised that agriculture is a major area where strong investments must be made, and the government is looking to ensure this is done over the coming years.
“Agriculture is such an important sector in Guyana. So that is a commitment that we have made in the past and that is something we intend to ensure that we deliver on,” he stated. “If you look at countries that manage that resource well, and Dubai always comes to mind, Kuwait always comes to mind, Qatar always comes to mind when you talk about oil and gas and managing the resource to ensure that people actually benefit, and the country progresses. When you talk about that you look at those countries and we would like to model ourselves close to that.”