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The National Development Strategy -- A Summary

The National Development Strategy (NDS) sets out priorities for our nation's economic and social development for the next decade. The draft document - which is made up six volumes - contains careful technical analysis of problems and future prospects in all sectors of the economy and in areas of social concern. It presents us with an opportunity to work together to prepare Guyana for the challenges of the next century.

The draft NDS - which was launched on Monday 6th January, 1997 by the late President His Excellency Dr Cheddi Jagan - is a result of over 300 hours of meetings by 23 "technical working groups" consisting of over 200 Guyanese. These efforts were co-ordinated by the Ministry of Finance, but the contributors came from a wide cross-section of organisations including the private sector, government agencies, non-government agencies, and the University of Guyana. The Carter Center assisted the Ministry of Finance with the overall co-ordination of the exercise.

This article summarises the key recommendations made by the NDS in the areas of macroeconomics (Volume 2), the social sectors (Volume 3), the productive sectors (Volume 4) and the infrastructure sectors (Volume 5). We encourage you to read the summaries and send your comments and recommendations to the NDS Secretariat, Ministry of Finance, Main Street, Georgetown (Tel: 02-67242; Fax: 02-73458).

The Macroeconomic Strategy (Volume 2)

The macroeconomic strategy put forward in the NDS is directly concerned with economic growth, employment, the distribution of income, inflation, poverty and sustainability in fiscal, environmental and institutional terms.

Principal Macroeconomic Issues and Constraints

In this chapter, the NDS looks at the issues and constraints facing Guyana at the level of the economy as a whole, such as the level of debt, the lack of competitiveness of several of the country's exports, and the weaknesses in the public sector. In some respects, a number of improvements have occurred in the economy, including a reduction in inflation, smaller "fiscal deficits" (the gap between government expenditure and revenue), higher foreign exchange reserves, and a stronger banking system. The NDS identifies some remaining problems:

Principal Orientations of Macroeconomic Policy

The objectives of macroeconomic policy for the next ten years can be summarised as follows:

In order to meet these objectives, it will be necessary to meet a number of sub-objectives:

The External Sector and Monetary Management

The principal objectives of the NDS in this area are to promote the growth of output and employment and to keep inflation at low levels. The NDS recommends:

Fiscal Policy and the Public Sector

In this chapter, the NDS looks at appropriate policies relating to government spending and revenue, as well as at the problems faced in the public sector. The NDS recommends:

Debt Management

Guyana faces high debt payments for both domestic and external debt, despite declining interest rates (in the case of domestic debt) and recent debt write offs (in the case of external). This has resulted in a reduction in the resources available for important expenditures, such as social infrastructure. The NDS recommends:

Banking Policy

The NDS seeks to promote the viability of the banking system while preserving competitiveness and a sound financial environment. The commercial banks and other financial intermediaries play an important economic role, such as by mobilising savings for investment purposes. The NDS recommends:

The Social Sectors (Volume 3)

Social policies are given a central place in the National Development Strategy (NDS); Volume III (The Social Sectors) is the largest of the six volumes of the NDS. Social policies are crucial to satisfying the national objectives of poverty alleviation, satisfaction of basic social and economic needs, and sustainment of a democratic and fully participatory society.

Poverty Alleviation/Reduction

Despite recent improvements, poverty remains a critical issue for many people in Guyana. The NDS has four priorities for poverty alleviation:

Environmental Policy

Environmental issues affect the health, well-being and future of the people of Guyana. The environmental policies of the NDS intend to promote the sustainable management of natural resources and preserve a healthy environment in coastal, urban and hinterland regions:

Health Policy

The objectives of the NDS are to improve the population's access to health care and the quality of that health care. Throughout, the aim is to ensure that no-one is denied access to health care because they are unable to pay. Recommendations include:

Educational Policy

The NDS recommends strategies to boost the levels of literacy and numeracy in the population and improve the availability of all levels of education from pre-school care and nursery, to technical vocational education and training (TVET), adult education and university. The NDS recommends:

Women, Gender and Development

This chapter of the NDS looks at the situation of Guyanese women in terms of poverty, employment, health, education, the household, and the media. Recommendations are made to tackle the higher incidence of poverty amongst women, the difficulties women face in the work place (such as low pay), the high incidence of domestic violence, and the specific health problems they face (including malnutrition and high maternal mortality). Specific suggestions include:

Amerindian Policies

The NDS seeks to tackle issues facing Amerindians in the areas of land, poverty and education. Recommendations are made to tackle Amerindians' marginalisation in the development process:

Urban Development and the Housing Sector

The main objective is to improve access to housing, basic services and amenities in Guyana's cities. The sector faces a lack of adequate planning; human and financial resource shortages; a scarcity of land for housing; and poor water and sewerage systems. The NDS recommends:

The Role of Regional and Local Government

The objective of the NDS is to create a more decentralised framework of regional and local government. Recommendations include:

The Productive Sectors (Volume 4)

- Agriculture and Forestry -

Agriculture is the single most important sector of Guyana's economy; more that 70% of Guyana's population live in rural households and are primarily dependent on income generated from agriculture and related activities.

Rice Development

Rice is Guyana's second major crop and a major source of income, employment and foreign exchange. Despite improvements since the late 1980s, the rice sector continues to face a number of constraints that hinder its development. The NDS makes the following suggestions to address problems such as, the lack of competitiveness on the international market, inadequate access to credit and land (especially for small farmers), and institutional weaknesses:

The Sugar Industry

Historically, the sugar industry has played an important social and economic role within Guyana. Today, it is the largest single employer in the country. The NDS makes recommendations to reduce its high production costs and increase its competitiveness; particularly important given the likely reduction in the preferential prices Guyana receives through the European Union:

Other Agriculture

Non-traditional crops are labour intensive and generate substantial levels of foreign exchange. Promoting the output of this sector will, therefore, increase rural incomes, employment and foreign exchange earnings, and reduce rural poverty. The NDS recommends:

The Institutional Framework for Agriculture

The institutional framework for the agriculture sector is made up of various agencies ranging from the Ministry of Agriculture and the National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI) to the producer organisations and Neighbourhood Democratic Councils (NDCs). The NDS makes a number of recommendations to deal with the constraints these agencies face, such as limited financial and human resources; weak linkages between national agencies; a weak policy review capacity; and a lack of decentralisation:

Agricultural Land Policy

The NDS makes recommendations to promote rapid growth through improvements in the efficiency with which land resources are used, and to support poverty alleviation by increasing access to land for the landless and small rural farmers:

Forest Management

The forest industry represents vast economic potential for Guyana. The NDS makes recommendations to increase the economic benefits derived from the forests; improve the sustainability of the sector; and spread the benefits of forest-based development to Guyana's rural areas:

Fisheries Policy

The NDS aims to maintain and improve the nutritional, social and economic benefits from the fisheries sector in a sustainable manner. The following recommendations are made:

The Productive Sectors Cont'd (Volume 4)

- Non-Agriculture -

Outside agriculture, there are various important productive sectors that are addressed in the NDS. This section summarises some of the recommendations made. Also discussed is the policy framework for the private sector, which applies to all the productive sectors.

Policy Framework for the Private Sector

In the NDS, a central challenge has been finding the most appropriate ways of combining the power of market forces, as the primary impulses to development, with the role of the State in providing the development framework, monitoring the process, and providing special assistance to target groups. The NDS makes various recommendations to ensure that the private sector continues to play a key role in the growth of the economy and that it is the major engine of employment creation and improved living conditions:

Mining Policy

Despite the decline of the bauxite industry, mineral development has the potential to once again become an engine for economic growth in Guyana. The NDS makes several recommendations to deal with the constraints experienced in all subsectors of mining, and to ensure the continued growth of the mining sector as a whole:

The Manufacturing Sector

Guyana's abundant endowment of natural resources provides an important basis for manufacturing development. However, for the growth of this sector to be realised, a number of constraints need to be addressed. The NDS makes recommendations to promote the rapid increase of production and employment in the sector:

Science and Technology

the establishment of a co-ordinating body for science and technology; essentially a new National Science and Research Council with a different definition of its organisation and functions. The NDS also suggests that there needs to be a clear and appropriate ministerial responsibility for science and technology. The co-ordinating body would also be responsible for reviewing the role of information technology in Guyana's development.

Labour and Employment Policy

The NDS aims to reduce unemployment and underemployment and the accompanying poverty by creating greater amounts of productive employment and greater labour flexibility and mobility. The NDS recommends:


Guyana possesses vast areas of interior that are still pristine, with untouched forests that are so diverse they can show the entire spectrum of tropical rainforest at its best. The potential for a thriving eco-tourism industry is promising but several key constraints to the sector's development must first be addressed. The NDS recommends:

The Infrastructure Sectors (Volume 5)

The infrastructure sector is basic to the functioning of any economy, and crucial to the success of Guyana, given its geography and dispersed settlements. A growing economy requires a rapid expansion of capacity and improvements in efficiency in the areas of electricity generation and transmission; all modes of transportation; water supply and drainage; and sea defences. Guyana faces a number of bottlenecks in the infrastructure sectors, damaging the economy's ability to grow and the country's ability to compete on the world market.

Transport Development

The transport sector is critical to Guyana's economic development. The NDS looks at the areas of road, maritime, and air transport and makes various recommendations:

Road Transport

The road system in Guyana - which has played a central role in the country's development - faces a number of constraints, which the NDS seeks to address. The NDS suggests:

Maritime Transport

With the decentralisation of economic activity and the corresponding development of the interior regions of the country, there is an increasing demand for water transport in Guyana. The NDS makes recommendations to overcome the various constraints faced by the sector:

Air Transport

As with the other two areas of transportation, air transportation is vital to the economic development of the country. In addition, air transport plays a vital role in linking the coastal areas and hinterland communities, many of which are inaccessible by any other means of transportation. The NDS recommends:

Energy Policies

If Guyana is to realise its very considerable development potential, a reliable system of electricity generation and transmission is essential. An inadequate system raises the costs of production in all sectors of the economy - particularly for small producers - by requiring companies to install their own generating capacity and by damaging equipment through severe voltage fluctuations. This acts as a discouragement to potential investors. In addition, a poor electricity supply effects a wide cross-section of households. The NDS makes recommendations to overcome the various constraints faced in the sector, and to create a system capable of dealing with the growing energy demands of an expanding economy:

Water Management and Flood Control

Guyana's geography make effective water management and flood control crucial. The coastal area of Guyana - where most of the population lives and where the main crops are cultivated - lies below sea level and is subjected to flooding and erosion. The NDS makes several recommendations to deal with the problems facing the country's sea defences and drainage and irrigation (D&I) system. The NDS also considers the important role of the hydrometeorological service, which evaluates the country's climate and water resources, and operates the National Meteorological Station Network (NMSN) and the National Hydrological Station Network (NHSN).

Sea Defences

Drainage & Irrigation

Hydrometeorological Service

The NDS Secretariat encourages your comments on the draft NDS, preferably in writing. Alternatively, you are invited to attend and give your comments at any of the public consultation workshops which will be held shortly in various regions of the country. The dates of these will be advertised.

The NDS Secretariat
Ministry of Finance
Main Street

Tel: 02-67242 Fax: 02-73458

E-mail: nds@solutions2000.net