Guyanese in Barbados, as are those who emigrated and became resident elsewhere, are now being forced to weigh their options of returning to the land of their birth in response to a growing skill need and be part of the oil-spurred development, or remain in their adopted lands while others fill the gap.
So it was that when scores of Guyanese in Barbados got together in worship to observe the 53rd anniversary of their country’s political independence Sunday, their Consul General in the island, Cita Pilgrim, lay before them the call of the land for skills they possess which are either already, or will soon , be badly needed.
“This most exciting time of our development,” she said to the congregation in the Cathedral of St. Michael and All Angels in downtown Bridgetown.
Placing this excitement in context, she noted that at the time of her independence message last year the estimate was for the country producing 500,000 barrels of oil per day in 2020 but that has now moved up to 750,000 barrels per day.
Pointing out that economic momentum towards Guyana’s first extraction is building, Pilgrim reflected that the country’s economic growth in 2018 was registered at 4.1 percent and noted that it is projected to 4.6 percent this year.
She said that the growth “is owed in part to increased construction activity as preparation for the new oil and gas sector is being undertaken.”
“Our country will see progress such as our region never experienced before, and which will be fuelled by the development of the oil and gas industry,” the Consul General said as she stressed that the important industries of agriculture and mining will continue to receive priority despite the expected oil-boom.
Pilgrim, however said, “we are not without challenges. There is much need for skills in every area of endeavour and wide-ranging overseas [agencies] are looking at ways in which they can be part of the development.”
Here she alerted Guyanese to possible opportunities in the land of their birth, “this is the time when Guyanese may wish to examine their options as there is much to achieve and a bright future ahead”.
The Guyana consul general in Barbados’ appeal to her compatriots comes against the backdrop of the state-owned newspaper in her country, Chronicle, reporting last weekend, “U.S. oil giant, ExxonMobil, has made 13 oil discoveries to date offshore Guyana in the Stabroek Block. With well over 5.5 billion oil-equivalent barrels in the Stabroek Block, production is expected to commence in March 2020. The developments in Guyana’s budding oil-and-gas sector augur well for the country with a population of approximately 750,000 people, observers have said.”
In his independence day message, President of Guyana, David Granger, spoke of the need for all to be involved in the coming developments for the benefit of future generations, “the commencement of petroleum production next year, and the transition towards becoming a ‘green’ state, will increase economic growth and provide greater resources for development. The future belongs to young people.”
As Guyanese abroad are urged to return, the president assured that their offspring will become immersed into a stream of youth development.
“Young people can be assured of greater opportunities as a result of oil production and the policies of the Guyana Green State Development Strategy.
“A nation in which young people are united, educated, trained, safe, happy, healthy and integrally involved in the decision-making processes, while enjoying equality of opportunity and equal access to the resources of our country and are politically, economically and socially empowered.”