US Ambassador to Guyana, Perry Holloway, has called for significant investments to be injected into crime and security, as Guyana needs to prepare itself for new challenges as an emerging oil and gas economy.
He was delivering the keynote address on the topic, “Crime and Security: A Regional and National Perspective and Implications for Economic Growth”, at the Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association (GMSA)’s Business Luncheon held at the Pegasus Hotel, Georgetown, on Tuesday.
He said, “One of the things that everybody worries about is what is going to happen when oil gets here. I don’t think that it is oil and gas that attracts crime, I think is more people, more money.”
Revenues earned from the emerging oil and gas industry in Guyana will run into billions of US dollars which have the potential to transform the economic landscape of the country. This, the Ambassador said, is no excuse for Guyana to become complacent. He said the country needs to urgently prepare for what is to come and the likely challenges.
“This requires political will. It is fine for the Americans to come in and offer some help if the government and the people and the private sector do not want it all programmes will fail,” he stated.
Turning his attention to Trafficking in Persons, Holloway said while the Government is making some strides in curbing this societal ill, much more needs to be done, since the numbers in this area are likely to increase.
He explained that “As your economic base increases there is more money here. You will likely see more people being trafficked. We have already seen a few cases of Venezuelans and Haitians being trafficked through Guyana.”
He added too that, “When I look at the amount of spending that Guyana does on a per capita basis it is one of the lower ones in the region…. You can’t have police or the Guyana Defense Force or other officials going after 21st-century criminals with 19th-century equipment and institutions. It just can’t be done.”
Ambassador Holloway believes that the Government, the private sector, the public and civil society must work together to strengthen efforts that can significantly deter cross-border and other forms of criminal activities in Guyana.
Meanwhile, President of the GMSA, Shyam Nokta, pointed out that, “When we look at national security, some have argued that for the most part crime in the Guyana context has been driven at the domestic level. However, circumstances in the region close to our borders often pose a threat to national security, whether it is cross-border movement of illicit drugs or the threat from criminal gangs, our porous borders leave us vulnerable.”
He, therefore, questioned, “Could this be exacerbated as we move to an oil and gas economy?”
The GMSA luncheon was attended by several members of the business community, Diplomatic Corps and Members of the Opposition.