President David Granger, yesterday, met with Ms. Tasheen Khan, Country Director for Caribbean Countries, World Bank Group at State House, where they both committed to establishing a stronger, long-term relationship after a period of short-term arrangements, initiated under the former administration, as a result of disagreements over some projects. Due to the disagreements, the strategic plans between Guyana and the Bank were only for the duration of two years. However, the two sides are now looking to resort to the normal process, which will see five year strategic plans being developed. The Bank is looking to promote strengthened cooperation and collaboration with Guyana in a number of areas including climate change, education and the oil and gas sector and has invited the Head of State to address the organisation on Guyana’s ‘Green’ State Development Strategy (GSDS).
During the meeting, the Director also extended praise to the current administration for the strides it has made over the past three years as she noted that efforts made to bring Guyana into compliance with the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) and the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) are commendable. “I want to express my congratulations to you and how during your tenure you have moved the country forward in several areas and the steps you took to get Guyana out of the CFATF’s list is very positive. We acknowledge and congratulate you on the progress in these areas,” she said.
President Granger was invited by Ms. Khan to visit the World Bank to make a presentation on Guyana’s ‘green’ agenda. In an invited comment, the Director said that it is her belief that the Bank as well as the rest of the world has a lot to learn from Guyana and its pursuit of a ‘green’ state.
During a brief interview following the meeting, Country Director said, “[President Granger] explained his vision and his aspirations for where he wants Guyana to move forward, taking full advantage as well as protecting your beautiful environment and resources and when I was listening to him, I realised that there is a lot that the World Bank and my colleagues in Washington can learn from what Guyana is aspiring to do, especially in a unique situation where on one hand you have this green agenda and on the other, you have this extractive oil industry coming up. So balancing both together, I felt that bringing the President to the World Bank Headquarters for a presentation on the aspirations of Guyana will be beneficial for both parties, for the World Bank and other stakeholders.”
Ms. Khan briefed the Head of State and Minister of Finance, Mr. Winston Jordan on projects, which the Bank is looking to expand on and initiate in Guyana. In education sector, she noted that currently, funding to the tune of US$25million has been made available to Guyana for several projects, including the construction of two new Secondary schools in Yarrowkabra and Hope, Demerara-Mahaica (Region Four). The Bank will also be working with the Ministry of Education to explore the possibility of the use of technology to improve access to education across the country.
President Granger welcomed this announcement noting that education remains a top priority for his administration and it will continue to do whatever is possible to ensure that every children is able to attend and stay in school. “We want to prepare our people for the future and that is why one of our focuses is on education. Part of the problem has been the size of the country and also the language barrier particularly in hinterland communities and our education system has to take this into consideration but we are taking education very seriously,” he said.
Ms. Khan also noted that the Bank, in the coming months, will be making financing available to the country to strengthen and stabilise its financial sector to the tune of $35million. Minister Jordan said that the Government hopes that the relationship between the two entities can be fortified into a long-term arrangement so that it can become mutually beneficial.
The meeting was also attended by Mr. Pierre Nadji, Senior Country Officer, Guyana, Suriname and Belize, Latin America and Caribbean Region, Ms. Galina Sotirova, Country Manager, Jamaica and Guyana, Ms. Abha Prasad, Program Leader, Caribbean Countries, Latin America and the Caribbean and Mr. Christopher Sheldon, Practice Manager, Energy and Extractive, World Bank.