Government should consult Opposition early on Guyana’s impending Oil Industry – Ramkarran


Former Speaker of the National Assembly, Ralph Ramkarran is sounding the alarm early that there is a need for government to reach out to the Opposition on issues surrounding the country’s future oil industry.

The Speaker made this suggestion on his blog, the Conversation Tree under the title ‘Oil and Some of its Consequences’ on Saturday.

“Government appears to be making preparations to establish the legal framework and institutional mechanisms” he stated. However, “there is no evidence that it(government) is making any effort to reach out to the Opposition to build consensus from the earliest stage”.

Ramkarran cautioned that “if the Government wants political and national consensus going forward, it needs to start consultations with the Opposition early or face the possibility of a perennially contentious situation for our oil industry”.

The Former Speaker believes the most important issue the country could soon face is “how to ensure that Guyana’s agriculture, mining and forestry industries are sustained, that agri-based industries, in which Guyana has great potential and other industries, such as in information technology and otherwise, are developed.”

He further added that other developing countries which became oil producers were guilty of neglecting their “indigenous industries” due to “the flow of income from oil,” a road he cautioned for Guyana.
“The need for labour also increases and the pay is much higher than the workers obtain as agricultural workers. They leave for the higher pay. Shortage of labour can kill agriculture, mining and forestry” said Ramkarran.

“If the Government wishes Guyana to avoid the fate of so many other countries, it has to start planning now” added the Former Speaker.

He is also of the opinion that Government should decide “to impose lending by banks of a certain percentage of overall loans to speci al areas, such as agriculture, paying special attention to small and medium scale farmers”, or he believes “it(government) would need to devise some serious incentives to banks to increase the flow of resources to agriculture and agri-based industries”.

Ramkarran ended his article by outlining the necessity for consultation which he feels should begin now along with public engagements as Government leads the way.

“We hear warnings repeatedly about the “Dutch disease,” corruption, and other ills likely to emerge in Guyana as an oil producer. But there are no consultations, no proposals and no debate” he said, but not without ending with the words “we are being warned”.

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