Presidents Ali, Santokhi to cooperate in oil and gas; other sectors
The Governments of Guyana and Suriname will establish a strategic dialogue and cooperation platform led by the newly elected Presidents of the two countries to implement a number of projects during their time in office.
“…we’re setting up a working committee at the policy level and at the technical level, not only to advance discussions but to come out with a timetable of actions for the implementation,” President Irfaan Ali said on Sunday during a joint press conference with the Surinamese President Chandrikapersad Santokhi at State House, Georgetown.
Santokhi – elected as his country’s leader on July 16, 2020 – visited Guyana at the weekend for the inauguration of Guyana’s newly elected President after which the two leaders and their delegations engaged in a series of bilateral meetings.
President Ali told the media that the two leaders discussed cooperation on the management of the natural resources sector, local content policy in the oil and gas sector, the sharing of information on issues of security, use of technology, joint radar surveillance of border shared by the two countries among other issues.
“We’ve both stressed the need to have time-bomb objectives so we’ve laid the framework that would enable us to make use of the opportunities, that would enable us to confront the challenges, that would define the way we approach international partners, international financial institutions, the raising of capital,” President Ali said.
“We also looked at the agriculture sector, we looked at mining, quarrying and of course ICT,” he added.
President Ali said the end goal is to ensure that the people of both countries benefit.
Bridging the Corentyne River
Among the top priorities is the bridging of the Corentyne River which divides the two CARICOM countries.
“We now have to put that in the technical working group but not only the bridge as an isolated project but as a menu package. We can’t compete against each other but complement each other…the purpose is to have synergy,” Guyana’s President said.
This area he said will see “immediate discussions and technical work going forward.”
The bridging of the Corentyne River was raised before and was discussed by former Presidents David Granger and Dese Bouterse but was never brought to fruition.
However, the two new Presidents believe that their confidence and vision will ensure that this is done.
“These are not just discussions and promises and timelines,” President Ali said.
Meanwhile, Guyana’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Hugh Todd subsequently noted that the new bridge will add value to Guyana’s commodities.
“…that will add a lot of value in terms of our economic efficiency and allow costs to go down especially in terms of that link so that is something that we will work assiduously to ensure that we can get that project to a reality,” he said.
Santokhi in his remarks noted that while there is historical cooperation between the two countries, the new Committee led by himself and President Ali will add value to the cooperation.
“All the issues and all the topic will get their own joint working teams. Some of them are existing already, they will be renewed…they will be now instructed with the new energy, with the new commitment and the new vision we have as two leaders,” the Surinamese leader said.
The Surinamese President said the new administrations means action and that an arrangement will be in place within weeks to get projects moving.
The two countries are looking to cooperate at the CARICOM level and on other international bodies.
Surinamese Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and International Trade Albert Ramdin during a subsequent press conference noted that “the difference is the confidence we have now as two leaders…we believe we can do it and we have the commitment as the two leaders…we have the mandate of our people to have this level of cooperation and we will exercise the mandate of our people.”
“We will start as quick as possible because we have the belief and trust that we can do it better,” he added.
The Guyana-Suriname committee will meet again in October. It will be joined by Ministers of the various sectors depending on the issue on the agenda to be discussed.