I am pleased to be here today to formally announce U.S. efforts to support the Government of Guyana to prepare for the submission of its candidacy to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, or EITI.
The United States Embassy is proud to provide the Carter Center with a grant in the amount of $297,000 US dollars to facilitate a series of programs with the Ministry of Natural Resources that will help Guyana to comply and develop an acceptable candidacy submission for the EITI Secretariat.
Jason will elaborate on some of the details, but the grant from the U.S. Embassy is for a 12-month program on “Advancing Transparency and Accountability in Guyana’s Extractive Industries.” The scope of the grant is expected to assist the Government of Guyana – through the Ministry of Natural Resources – to develop the candidacy documents required by the EITI Secretariat. I am confident this program will strengthen the work of the Government of Guyana in promoting transparency in the country’s extractive industries at a time when Guyana prepares to welcome future growth in the petroleum industry.
I have said it before, but it bears repeating, that the significant oil find in Guyana has the potential to transform Guyana from one of the poorest nations in the western hemisphere to one of the richest. However it will take careful and thoughtful planning by key stakeholders to make this happen. We have talked about Guyana creating a Sovereign Wealth Fund, and the importance of transparency and accountability. Today’s announcement is a logical step in the progression towards assisting the Government of Guyana to achieving greater prosperity for the wonderful people of Guyana.
In terms of job creation, I want to take this opportunity to remind everyone that this significant oil find will not create jobs in the oil and gas sector. The work is too technical and specialized to train people as quickly as they are needed. However, the revenue generated from the oil find will create jobs in areas chosen by the government, in consultation with other key stakeholders. Examples of how the revenue may be spent include, but are not limited to, investing in hydropower and/or other forms of renewable energy, modernization of health care facilities to improve patient care and to attract and keep doctors in the country, better schools and universities, and infrastructure projects like the road to Lethem to increase trade with neighboring Brazil. My point here is that in many ways, the Government and people of Guyana may have the best of both worlds – oil revenue and no limitations on where to guide job creation and growth.
But first, the infrastructure must be put into place to facilitate the expected revenue. With that, I will now turn it over to Jason to talk about this important grant and its goals.