With Guyana’s new oil wealth, EU willing to help guard against corruption

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The European Union (EU) is restructuring relations with Guyana, now pursuing a new political partnership, and in doing so, the body has pitched itself as a partner to help guard against corruption.

Over the past few days, there have been high-level engagements between the government and EU officials. These discussions are meant to solidify longer-term bilateral relations.

And on Wednesday, Deputy Managing Director for the Americas European External Action Service (EEAS) Javier Nino Perez said that measures to guard against corruption, especially now that Guyana is an oil-producing nation, has been a central part of the discussions.

“… we have the capacity through our new development cooperation programme to provide technical assistance for the government to implement those economic reforms and for the government to use those funds effectively and transparently,” Perez highlighted during a discussion held at the University of Guyana (UG).

Making the pitch for the provision of the EU’s support, Perez pointed out that the Union is “strongly experienced” in managing public funds in Europe.

The EEAS Official made it clear, however, that the EU recognises that Guyana has the responsibility of deciding how its massive oil wealth should be used. Yet, he hopes that the revenues will be used transparently.

Importantly, he also expressed his hope that the revenues would be used to cater for the needs of the country. That includes investments in infrastructure, health and education.

The EU’s positioning of itself as a partner to help Guyana protect itself from corruption is significant because of the level of trust the Union is placing in Guyana and the government.  In fact, Perez clearly spoke of the trust the EEAS- and the EU- has placed in Guyana during a recent press briefing with President Dr. Irfaan Ali.

“We want to build, we want to reinforce a true political relation with Guyana,” he stated.

President Ali said there will be stronger discussions on regional and international issues, governance, and democracy. He credited the transformation of Guyana’s profile at the regional and international levels, saying more work will have to go into supporting that transformation.

And at UG, Perez reasoned that Guyana’s development must be carefully guided.

The high-ranking EU official said that many countries have suffered from financial mismanagement and corruption when there is a sudden influx of revenue. Ultimately, he warned, poor management could lead to the economic decline of the entire country.

Such poor management and corruption could lead to countries being ‘blacklisted’ by the EU; this is a measure that severely affects economic prospects, potentially hindering investments.

Guyana had been ‘blacklisted’ by the EU before but Perez said that the “message” the Union got from its engagements with the Government of Guyana is that there is a keen focus on ensuring the country’s developmental agenda is undertaken with full transparency.

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