World Bank to deepen engagement with Guyana

Last Updated on Wednesday, 4 May 2016, 6:26 by Denis Chabrol

The World Bank Group’s Board of Executive Directors discussed Tuesday a new country engagement note for Guyana for the next two years to strengthen climate resilience, improve education quality and lay the ground for private sector development, the international financial institution said in a statement.

“We must ensure that we make the very best choices possible to take advantage of our natural endowments to create a more cohesive and prosperous society on behalf of the people of Guyana,” said Winston Jordan, Minister of Finance of Guyana. “This renewed partnership with the World Bank is a sign of the government’s commitment to fighting poverty and climate change,” he added.

With the fall of commodity prices, severe drought affecting the region, and the end of the oil for rice program, Guyana’s economic growth has slowed down from 5 percent growth in 2013 to 3 percent in 2015. The economy is forecast to expand by 4 percent annually over the next two years, assuming that global commodity prices will not drop any further.

To boost competitiveness in the country, it is essential to tackle climate risks, generate the skills needed for the jobs of tomorrow, and create the right business ecosystem,” said World Banks Country Director for the Caribbean, Sophie Sirtaine. “This marks an important step in our engagement with Guyana to help build an inclusive and green economy”. 

As the Government of Guyana is finalizing its national development strategy, the World Bank Group says it has agreed with the government to focus on three priorities:

  • Building resilience to natural disasters: Guyana is one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change. Nearly 90 percent of Guyana’s population lives in the narrow coastal plain, largely below sea level. Specifically, the projects will continue improving flood preparedness through improved hydro-meteorological monitoring and the rehabilitation of critical infrastructure to reduce the risk of flooding in the East Demerara coast.
  • Improving high quality education: Guyana has made progress in achieving universal primary education, but learning remains an issue across grade levels. Student learning achievement in secondary education show that only 50 percent pass mathematics and 70 percent pass English in 11th grade. To improve education quality from early childhood to university, the Bank will help strengthen the University of Guyana through curriculum improvements, teachers training in mathematics, and a pilot technology-assisted learning in mathematics. It will also provide early childhood education support to all nursery and Grade 1 classes in the hinterland regions and targeted remote areas.
  • Laying the ground for private sector development: The World Bank Group will focus on strengthening the financial infrastructure and the business regulatory environment to support the government’s efforts to promote private sector growth and access to finance.

IFC will continue supporting private sector investments particularly in the mining sector with a focus on promoting sustainable practices, civil society participation, and the rights of indigenous people.

In addition, MIGA will also look to support productive investment projects through its political risk guarantees as relevant opportunities emerge.