Gov’t to place greater focus on forestry, mining sectors through budget 2024 – Min. Bharrat

While Guyana’s oil and gas sector holds tremendous promise for building a sustainable economy, Minister of Natural Resources Vickram Bharrat has stressed that the government will continue to invest in building its forestry and mining sectors to bring greater benefits to the “ordinary man.”

During his presentation in the National Assembly on day two of the 2024 budget debates, the minister used facts to debunk the opposition’s spurious claims that the $1.146 trillion fiscal plan does not hold provisions for the ordinary Guyanese.

Minister of Natural Resources, Vickram Bharrat

These provisions span every sector including education, housing, infrastructure, and even natural resources, according to Minister Bharrat.

With initiatives like the Guyana Online Academy of Learning (GOAL), the government’s rigorous house lot allocation programme, and the carbon credits fund, Guyanese from all walks of life are receiving the tools to build a prosperous future.

The minister lamented that upon assuming office in 2020, the PPP/C Administration discovered that the country’s forestry sector was in a dire state, while today, the local demand for forestry products has increased, a testament to the development fostered in the industry.

“The Guyana Forestry Commission was bankrupt. In less than three years, we have turned the sector around. The increased demand did not happen by magic. It is because of the prudent management of the economy, and our ability to bring in investors in almost every single sector of our country. It is because of the confidence of people in our economy and our government, that they are investing in our country,” the minister pointed out.

Last year, the government signed an Aide Mémoire with the European Union (EU) under its Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) which is a critical component of the Forest Law and Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT) action plan.

According to the minister, this agreement will play an instrumental role in further developing the sector.

Additionally, despite facing many challenges such as labour shortages and adverse weather conditions, the minister said the government will continue to explore ways to enhance gold production in the country’s mining sector.

“It simply means that the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission will have to look at new measures and ways in which we can help miners, and incentivise and grow small and medium-scaled operations,” he assured.

Budget 2024 has allocated some $400 million to commence the mineral inventory process in the country’s mining districts.

“It is very costly to do the survey in all the mining districts. This budget is a start to do that mineral survey, so now we can allocate blocks and claims in a more informed manner the same way in which we can do it in forestry because of the national forest inventory” he stated.

The budget will also facilitate improved accessibility and availability of new lands for mining activities.

“It is also important that as an agency we open new areas, making lands accessible like we have done in the Troy Resources area, thereby giving 82 small Guyanese miners claims in that area, most of whom have already started their operations,” Minister Bharrat stated.

The minister assured that there is no need for concern as the sector is poised for a dramatic comeback. Extensive exploration activities are underway in areas such as Omai, Marudi, and Eagle Mountain.

“These are foreign investors that all have exploration licences and have already discovered significant deposits of gold. The future looks bright, and I want to say to all Guyanese that budget 2024 is continuing the foundation that is laid for a new, modern, prosperous Guyana for every citizen of our country,” he said.

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