Guyana needs to build national consensus on a multi-year developmental plan to be executed with revenues from oil and gas sector.
This is the view put forward by prominent attorney Nigel Hughes, who represents several oil companies here.
During a meeting with residents of Buxton on Sunday on the oil and gas sector, Hughes stated that Guyana needs a national infrastructural plan that covers at least a 20-year cycle.
“You can’t have at every political cycle if there is a change that you start changing your developmental plans. We are less than one million people. We need to be able to have some broad consensus on our development. Let us do it in a 20 to 25-year cycle.
“We can tweak it depending on who gets elected, but at least we know where we going and how we getting there,” Hughes stated.
He raised the matter of Berbice Bridge project, which “we now know can’t pay for itself” due to its location.
“From jump street, the Berbice Bridge was a project that was not viable so we have to keep spending money to subsidize the crossing. If we had, as a people, control and access to the decision- making processes when the decision was made to locate the Berbice Bridge where it was and look at the numbers, we wouldn’t have ended up there,” Hughes noted.
He noted that after 50 years of independence, the largest capital investment by the state included the $200M on the Skeldon sugar factory, which he described as an absolute disaster.
Hughes also listed the $150M Cheddi Jagan International Airport and the $100M Mahaica/Mahaicony/Abary (MMA) agricultural development project, which he described as the most successful project to date.
Further, Hughes noted that one of the largest road projects was the West Coast Demerara highway, which was recently concluded for $44M.
“If you can’t manage two cents, how are you going to manage a dollar? You have structural management issues in relation to how you manage your finances and manage yourself. If you can’t do it for the small amounts, you’re not going to see the big amounts,” Hughes noted.
Based on World Bank recommendations, Guyana as a medium income country should spend 8.2% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on infrastructure, which includes transport, energy, water and Information Communications and Technology (ICT).
However, based on last year’s capital budget allocations, Guyana was spending only 4.9% of its GDP on infrastructure.
“Even on acceptable standards, we are classified as medium income. We are spending half of what we should be spending on infrastructure,” Hughes noted.
With a lack of proper paved roads to several interior locations, Hughes noted that it infrastructure is an obvious place to spend the revenues from oil and gas.
“Of course it’s not just going to be a mass spending. We need to transcend political cycles,” Hughes noted.
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