Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) Executive Director Jerry Butler says the multilateral financial agency will not support any infrastructural project, including those in the oil and gas sector, in the absence of a comprehensive Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) study.
Butler was at the time participating in a panel discussion on the macroeconomic considerations for Guyana’s transforming economy at a conference being held at the Marriott Hotel in Georgetown, on Monday.
“When we move funding…into any major infrastructural project; whether it is oil, gas, building a Berbice bridge…whatever it is, we are severely constrained about moving very quickly without an Environmental Impact Assessment. At our level at the Board, we are not going to move unless that happens,” he said.
Butler was responding to concerns raised by a participant regarding the preservation of the environment in Guyana, and the role of international organisations, as the country moves closer to becoming a petroleum producer in 2020.
“There has to be realism about how far and how fast an infrastructure investment in the petroleum sector can move when you have such an ecologically sensitive place like Guyana,” he stated. Butler said Guyana is not only the food basket of the Caribbean, but the South American country has also been identified as the “lungs of the earth” and as such, “we can’t mess that up just because we found oil,” he said.
The IDB, Butler pointed out, believes the most important thing it can do in Guyana, is help to improve the institutional framework and transparency associated with approving and executing projects.
The Caribbean-Central American Action (CCAA) and the IDB spearheaded the two-day conference being held in Guyana under the theme; The Transformational Economy: Perspectives and Opportunities for Guyana’s Private Sector.