Oil and gas bring important transformative agenda – Irfaan Ali

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Presidential Candidate of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP), Dr Irfaan Ali, says that the budding oil and gas sector will bring a transformation agenda and create a host of new opportunities for Guyana.

Only last week, it was revealed that commercial production in the oil-rich Stabroek Block offshore Guyana will commence in December. There have been 14 oil discoveries made thus far in the Stabroek Block, amounting to more than five billion oil-equivalent barrels. The Liza Phase 1 development is expected to produce some 120,000 barrels of crude per day and it is estimated that Guyana will earn some US$300 million annually.

However, during a recent interview, Ali pointed out that the use of resources that will come from the emerging petroleum sector is important. He was at the time speaking about plans his party has for the industry if it wins next year’s March 2 General and Regional Elections.

“The important thing about oil and gas is the transformative agenda it brings with it and that transformative agenda must be one that not only rebuilds our infrastructure but be one that opens us new areas for more jobs, for higher-paying jobs, whether it’s in the hospitality industry – we’ll have three to four new hotels here very quickly— whether it’s in the logistics industry, a Deep Water Harbour, opening up new trade routes like the road to Lethem, bridging the Corentyne River,” he stated.

According to the Presidential Candidate, these are all investments that are linked to the oil and gas industry, and with the resources expected, the country can move at a faster pace with such transformational types of investments.

However, Dr Ali – an economist – posited that Guyana does not need to use resources directly from the petroleum sector to do some of these projects. He noted that the country will have the capacity to back investment like these.

He went on to outline that measures will have to be put in place to ensure that resources are used for social safety nets to ensure that there are transfers – cash or targeted transfers to the vulnerable, the elderly and other such groups so that all Guyanese benefit from the sector and that there is no disparity or inequality.

“Then we have to ensure that we manage the resources in such a way that we save for future generations,” he added.

On this note, the PPP Presidential Candidate contended that Guyana’s future should not only be about the oil and gas industry. Doing this, he said, will be an injustice to the economic potential of Guyana.

“The oil and gas sector would be an impetus to advance the other sectors at a very faster rate. But we have to ensure that in advancing the other sectors, we advance it in a competitive environment so that we remain globally competitive. And we also invest in new areas, emerging areas, that can bring tremendous benefit to our people and our country,” he stressed.

To this end, Ali asserted that there need to be measures in place to ensure transparency and accountability in order to guard the emerging sector against corruption.