Guyana open to Trinis but will not be ‘subservient’ – Jagdeo
Guyana remains open to partnering with Trinidad and Tobago, and any other CARICOM country, but those partnerships must not sideline Guyanese or Guyanese-owned business, Vice President Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo says.
At a press conference on Friday, the Vice President stood by comments he made earlier in the week stating that Trinidad’s economy was “falling apart”.
“The fact is Trinidad-and this is indisputable- that its economy is reliant on one sector: oil and gas.
“… this has nothing to do with just (Prime Minister Keith) Rowley. This is the fact of the economy of T&T going for a long period only relying on one sector,” Jagdeo said on Friday.
He explained that the country’s economy has been faced with numerous challenges over the past few years owed to limited economic diversification and dependence on a highly volatile sector. The COVID-19 pandemic, he acknowledged, contributed to worsening economic conditions.
Because of those challenges, Jagdeo said that the government is diligently attempting to avoid those pitfalls in the development of Guyana’s nascent oil and gas industry.
And, when asked if Guyana sees an opportunity to collaborate more with T&T, Jagdeo said that the government was open to greater collaboration, particularly to harness that country’s extensive experience in oil and gas.
He also emphasised that Guyana remains committed to partnerships within the Caribbean Community (CARICOM)- the regional bloc that both countries are founding members of.
“It must be an equitable sort of relationship,” he, however, said.
He added, “… people have to understand that we are on equal footing, not in a subservient way or subsidiary way. Our businesses would have to benefit too.”
In a recent invited comment, President Irfaan Ali told the News Room that Trinidad and Tobago is “an active part” of the government and private sector-led efforts at developing the nascent oil and gas sector.
“Look at the business community that is participating in Guyana- a lot of Trinidad private sector people are investing here, (there is) strong collaboration between countries,” Dr. Ali said.
At his press conference, however, the Vice President also said that some Trinidadian businesses may be bullying Guyanese. He also alluded to concerns raised about Guyana’s local content law.
“… somehow they believe they have a God-given right to displace Guyanese too in our own country from our own resources.
“We are not going to standby and allow that to happen,” Jagdeo said.
Earlier this week, President of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) Timothy Tucker also raised concerns about the enduring discrimination Guyanese businesses have faced in Trinidad.
Meanwhile, Jagdeo also spoke about the mistreatment of Guyanese and Guyanesebusinesses in that country. But, he thanked countries for hosting and supporting Guyanese immigrants.