President David Granger has stated that Guyana’s infrastructural network is severely inadequate, thus hindering the country’s development.
President David Granger
The Head of State was at the time speaking on his weekly televised programme “The Public Interest”, where he spoke about economic development through community-based enterprise. The programme was aired on Friday.
President Granger pointed out that one of the areas that is mostly affected by this is the hinterland region where infrastructural facilities are poor. He noted that his Administration has since developed an infrastructure plan to correct this situation, referring to the Linden-Lethem Highway, better wharfing facilities and better vessels to ply the riverine regions.
“We have renamed the Ministry of Public Infrastructure because the infrastructure base in this country is inadequate, it is hindering economic development. We need more roads, more bridges, better ferries. This will take time but this is part of our plan and part of our investment, particularly in that big Rupununi region (Region Nine – UpperTakutu-Upper Essequibo); a region bigger than Costa Rica – we have to get a highway going through there,” the President stated.
He noted with better infrastructure and commodities would be delivered in and out of the hinterland region, on a timelier basis and at reduced costs. The President pointed to the horrific vehicular accidents in hinterland regions due to the poor conditions of the roads. He also mentioned the frequent boat accidents in Guyana’s waterways.
“Public infrastructure is a major issue and I am very confident that over a period of years, not something that will happen next week or next month, we will have better infrastructure allowing producers and farmers to get their produce to markets,” he stressed.
On this note, the Head of State pointed out the need for Guyanese living in those eligible constituencies and municipalities such as Mabaruma to go out and vote at Friday’s Local Government Elections. He noted, this way, residents can put persons who they want to be in charge of the development of regional infrastructures.
Moreso, Granger added that they will also have a say in who will enhance the capacities within communities to encourage growth, economic activities and investments, which will in term contribute significantly to national development.
The Head of State believes that community-based enterprise will go a long way in this regard, since stronger communities would be able to encourage and attract the type of development needed. He outlined that “grass root developments” in communities such as agro-processing and other small enterprise initiatives will provide employment for young people and will eventually move onto bigger industries.
“The community is where these (efforts) start. I am encouraged with indigenous communities where women come together to produce cashew nuts, produce cassava bread and casreep. This is what I see happening and a lot of community-based projects eventually will have a regional and national flavour,” the Head of State remarked.
Furthermore, President Granger went on to talk about marketing products coming out of these community-based enterprises. He emphasised on the role the Caribbean Community (Caricom) have and promoting regional trade and how local entrepreneurs can reap benefits from initiatives such as the Caricom Single Market and Economy (CSME).
The President said that Guyanese exporters, manufacturers, and food processors can gain access to regional markets and can even make purchases from other Caricom neighbours.
Nevertheless, Granger underscored how large-scale investments can provide a market source for small enterprises. He noted with such investment someone like a fruit farmer can supply companies with its produces.
“We need to assure investors that there are local small businesses to support their operations,” he said.
Additionally, the Head of State recognised that such investments can also create jobs opportunities hinterland communities. However, he explained that in order to attract investors, Guyana first has to create the type of landscape, environment and framework that would be conducive for investors to feel comfortable and safe.
President Granger remarked that his Government has already taken measures to ensure that there is such an environment to attract investors in the areas of public safety and finance.
From the point of view of financing, President Granger said the subject Minister is looking at the tax regimes to review certain aspects, while in terms of business, efforts were undertaken by GO-Invest to ensure that when investors come into the country, they do not have to waste a lot of time or have too much red tape obstructing their access to licences and other things they need for development.
“These combined efforts will create a better environment for investors,” he stated, while adding that it is already happening in some extractive industries such as the mining sector. The President believes that can be repeated in other industries once the productive bases in the communities are created.