It could be a very good year

Guyana Chronicle
April 19, 2007

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Now that the Rio Group Summit and Cricket World Cup 2007 are behind us, the work of national development gets into gear once again.

The Guyana National Stadium is a magnificent achievement and a significant legacy of the administration.

But in President Bharrat Jagdeo’s own words, “Now it’s back to work. Soon you will see my ministers going around the country, talking to people in communities about roads, electricity and new housing schemes….”

This year has been one of the most hectic and demanding for the administration.

Besides the Rio and Group and the World Cup, there was the National Budget and the implementation of the Value Added Tax (VAT) which came under fire from many quarters.

But even as VAT settles down and a few hiccups emerge, there are important development projects being considered.

The most important of these is the Skeldon sugar modernization plant which has significant implications for the nation.

At a meeting at state House on Tuesday, the President was given the assurance by the main contractor that the project will be completed on schedule.

This is a tremendous project perhaps of more significance than the Stadium. This is a project which many critics are describing as an economic gamble.

But it arose from a decision that had to be made. It was either the modernization project to reduce production cost, or fold up, putting thousands of workers out of jobs and putting the lid on this source of much-needed foreign exchange.

The government’s bold decision is also safe-guarded by other linkages to the US$110M project.

Besides the 50,000 tons of sugar to be produced annually, the new plant will also be generating 10 megawatts of electricity for the national grid.

The successful completion of the factory will open the possibility of constructing a sugar refinery in Guyana.

The President indicated that there were discussions relating to an equity investment in a refinery, and there was an expanding market in the Caribbean for refined sugar in the Caribbean.

Additionally, the President is still interested in an alternative source of power, mainly hydropower.

And now there are discussions on the feasibility of an ethanol plant.

Many promising projects are in the offing, and it could be that 2007 will turn out to be a grand and significant year in the development of our country.