Founder member and Director of the Guyana Oil & Gas Association (GOGA), Nigel Hughes says serious thought must be given as to where the South American country would like to be by the time oil runs out and the private sector must decide what role it intends to play in this regard.
Hughes led a discussion on ‘Building a Base for Sustainable Development’ at a two-day conference organized by the Caribbean-Central American Action (CCAA) group and the Inter-American Development Bank which opened in Georgetown on Monday, under the theme; The Transformational Economy: Perspectives and Opportunities for Guyana’s Private Sector.
“The oil sector must be thought of as a finite resource. In 30 years when Liza and her sisters are dry, where do we want to be as a nation? What is the role of the private sector?” he posited.
Several case studies, Hughes said, show that even though the bulk of the wealth from oil production is deposited into the account of the State, the private sector and sections of the population have been able to significantly benefit from the industry.
He made reference to Angola where robust local content provisions have enabled the private sector to benefit from significant contracts in the oil and gas sector. In Guyana, discussions are ongoing on a draft local content policy framework which has been under review by a number of stakeholders over the past few months.
Hughes said what is important for Guyana is the need for the private sector to be an engine of growth and for the oil revenue to be translated into a number of vibrant new sectors. He pointed out that while it is the duty of government to create an enabling environment, “it is the private sector that will have to create the lion’s share of jobs and by extension growth.”
To achieve this, the GOGA Director said a thorough examination of the industry and its impact on the economy must be undertaken to determine what is required and the most effective way of fulfilling it.
The conference will wrap-up on Tuesday following sessions on business planning, banking and financial services, infrastructure and transportation, energy and mining, manufacturing, tourism and agriculture.
CCAA has been promoting private sector-led economic development in the Caribbean Basin since 1980. The organization serves its goal of facilitating trade and investment by fostering constructive dialogue between the private and public sectors to improve the policy and regulatory environments for business at the local, regional, and international levels.