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US to ensure all Guyanese benefit from oil money

Last Updated on Tuesday, 29 June 2021, 16:26 by Denis Chabrol

Albio Sires

The Chairman of the United States (US) Congressional sub-committee on the Western Hemisphere, Albio Sires has said that his country intends to engage Guyana to ensure all Guyanese benefit from the country’s growing oil wealth.

“In Guyana, where I travelled this year, we should work to ensure that proceeds of oil revenues benefit the entire population,” he said in a recent address to a hearing on “the Biden Administration’s efforts to deepen U.S. engagement in the Caribbean” that coincided with US Caribbean Month 2021.

He reiterated that the US wants to hold talks with the People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC)-led administration and the opposition coalition of A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC), among others, to ensure that everyone is involved in Guyana’s increasing goods and services for the population of more than 750,000 persons.

“As I said during the trip to Guyana, we want to engage all actors in Guyana including businesses, civil society, the current government and the opposition to advance inclusive economic growth,” Mr. Sires, a Democrat, said.

Citing the month-long devastating floods in Guyana, the Chairman of the United States Congressional sub-committee on the Western Hemisphere highlighted two priorities for the Democratic Joe Biden administration. “We need to step up our efforts to support climate resilience and energy security in the region,” he said.

The APNU+AFC has already expressed concern that only sections of the private sector appear to be benefiting from the oil sector.  The Irfaan Ali-led administration, on the other hand, has been insisting that Guyanese benefit from local content and has in the past expressed concern about Trinidad and Tobago companies setting up businesses to offer services that Guyanese can provide.

Ranking Member of the Western Hemisphere Subcommittee, Representative Mark Green said Guyana’s oil output is being regarded as an alternative source to Venezuela and pushing Guyana out of poverty. “With Guyana’s oil sector  growing and potentially providing an alternate to Venezuela’s, the oil and gas sector is critical to their country and could transform it from one of the Caribbean’s poorest countries to its wealthiest,” he said.

The US has openly recognised the Essequibo region as part of Guyana’s territory, effectively disregarding Venezuela’s claim to that area and the Atlantic sea. A number of American oil companies have untapped concessions offshore the Essequibo Region.