URP Is Suggesting, The Guyana Government Train 500 Students For The Oil Industry

Literally thousands of foreign investors and persons of interests are flocking to our shores to get their piece of our oil reserves. And these people are not petroleum neophytes. They kind of folks that we have been reading about and seeing on our news are multi-millionaires and hug prospectors and business conglomerates. And most of them are Caucasians.

Guyana must therefore play the oil-hand we have been dealt, properly. Those foreigners, who are flocking here by the plane and helicopter loads, are not coming because they have a new found love for Guyana. They are coming because they smell oil and money. These are people who have been in this business for very long and they know that Guyana is new to this sector. They want to make as much as they can; as quickly as they can. They also see the reports that the average Guyanese politician can be bought, easily.

The United Republican Party (URP), is therefore putting forth a recommendation to the Guyana Government. We are asking the Granger-led administration to immediately send 500 students to study 1 to 4 years courses, in subjects that have to do with the oil and gas industry. They must enroll in subjects like engineering, safety, physics, hospitality, environmental science, architecture design, civil defense, management, community preparedness, disaster maintenance, etc. The government can pay for these tuitions by leveraging the estimated oil wealth. They can contract with Universities for delayed payments. They can also borrow monies from the IDB, the World Bank, or even from local banks. They can even offer Treasury Bills as promissory notes to local companies that are flush with cash and are willing to buy into Guyana’s development. Additionally, the Government can seek grants from donor agencies to facilitate this academic drive.

Some might think that this is a pie-in-sky approach, so let me hasten to remind us that Trinidad has this model with their GATE program. Thousands of Trinidadian residents are trained – free of costs – yearly, through a nationally funded program, paid for from their oil revenues. The recipients of the scholarships will be required to return to Guyana and work for a minimum of three years. No doubt, with the right remuneration packages, these skilled workers would be inclined to remain after their contracted periods.

Additionally, the Government should send Guyanese to study in areas of advance best practices and techniques in commercial forms of cash-crop agriculture. Our agricultural sector is languishing, when compared to our Caribbean counterparts, even in a country with the most favorable of weather patterns, among our CARICOM neighbors.

May I also suggest, on behalf of the URP, that all the contracts written for our extractive sectors, include “knowledge transfer” clauses? There should be mandatory provisions in these contracts for the international agencies to employ and train Guyanese in whatever sector the contracts are written for. (We saw what happened in the construction of the Marriott. Not a single Guyanese was trained in the kind of technology that were used there).

The earlier Guyana invests in educating Guyanese in these needed sectors, the earlier Guyana will reap the full benefits of our natural resources. Furthermore, until Guyanese are professionally trained to take the reins from these foreign professionals, most of our monies will go into the coffers of overseas nations. All the oil producing nations of the world (even Barbados. Yes, Barbados has oil), have their own citizens managing their extractive sectors.

We understand that because of our ignorance in the skill-sets of most of these sectors, Guyana cannot now take the helm. However, what the URP is suggesting, is that the Guyana Government, rush ahead, immediately, in preparing Guyanese to do what all the other developed nations have done; trained their own people to man these multi-billion dollar sectors. This does not have to be a politically partisan issue. Guyana and its resources belong to all of us. This is commonsensical. Can we do it? Yes we can!