New US Ambassador to Guyana Sarah-Ann Lynch while congratulating the country on the establishing of a Sovereign Wealth Fund has cautioned about the need to balance between short and long-term goals for the use of resources.
The envoy was speaking at Tuesday’s launch of the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) Guyana Office at the Marriott Hotel.
According to the text of her remarks issued by the US Embassy, Lynch said “…I congratulate the people of Guyana and their government for establishing a Sovereign Wealth Fund. No matter what the future holds for the law itself, having a sovereign wealth fund in place from the first day of production is needed to protect 100% of the people’s patrimony. This includes not only profits from the oil that has already been discovered, but also from new discoveries.
“A sovereign wealth fund will provide Guyana with the opportunity to invest in its long-term future as well as today’s infrastructure, health and education, and security. There must, therefore, be a balance between short-term and long-term goals. Prudent management of incoming revenues will ensure that investments by the government in its people do not simply last for as long as oil is pumped out of the ground, but beyond that, for the next 30, 50, even 100 years, through the creation of diverse new industries and projects”.
On January 3rd this year, the government controversially passed the Natural Resources Fund Bill 2018 with no objection as the Opposition side of the House was not present. The passage of the bill catering for Guyana’s version of a Sovereign Wealth Fund came in the political limbo following the successful December 21, 2018 no-confidence vote against the government,
The bill, which will cater for funds from oil production in 2020, was passed with minor amendments. It is unclear what the government has done thus far to activate it.
Lynch also told the AmCham event “I’m sure I don’t need to tell all of you that this is a very important moment in Guyana. Now, more than ever, Guyana’s private sector is carving out its role in a new and exciting era in the country’s development trajectory. Thus far, AmCham-Guyana has already had several notable successes. From taking this organization from a mere idea to an official affiliate in record time and exponential growth of its membership since its August 2018 founding, to its already diverse and impactful civil engagement, AmCham-Guyana has shown that it intends to be an active stakeholder committed to seeing growth and development in Guyana. Both American and Guyanese companies will benefit from the dedication and commitment of this organization, as will the people of Guyana and the United States.
“While the recent oil discoveries, now totaling an estimated 5.5 billion barrels, are what have catapulted Guyana onto the global stage, this country’s economy is much more than oil. This is evident in the fact that the GDP has seen positive growth for at least the last 10 years. Beyond oil, Guyana can also leverage and develop its other industries to include tourism, manufacturing, agriculture, non-oil extractive industries, and other services. And there is a bright future here for renewable energy, too. It is apparent that Guyana is working hard to seize the moment.
“As such, foreign investment is likely to greatly increase in the coming years. Guyana has vast untapped resources, so the potential is enormous. Together with sound democratic governance and an independent and active civil society, the private sector here has the opportunity to thrive, and Guyana has the opportunity to become one of the wealthiest countries in the hemisphere”.
The Ambassador’s remarks did not touch on the controversy here surrounding the motion of no confidence and its fallout.