A natural resource windfall is an opportunity to transform a poor economy. Unfortunately, it is also an opportunity for plunder. The struggle between these options is existential: for example, the same resource discovery, diamonds, propelled Botswana from poverty to affluence, and convulsed Sierra Leone into violence and destitution. In that struggle, the best defence is a critical mass of citizens who understand the issues. But that critical mass has to be built: the siren call of plunder has often been powerfully seductive, and some of the choices that turn out to be key are not obvious. This guide is a timely and well-crafted step in building that citizen understanding. Opinion-leaders in Guyana, both in politics and the media, now have a responsibility to give it the attention it warrants.
Our country is diverse, blessed with an abundance of natural resources, strategically located, and full of untapped potentials. Yet, far too many hard working Guyanese live in poverty, cannot afford to send their children to school or invest in their future, have low-paying jobs, and are less hopeful about ever escaping the vicious cycle of poverty. Through our analyses of employment, incomes, and overall economic security, the Budget and Policy Institute seeks to highlight policies or a lack thereof that may be contributing to such poor outcomes and potential policy approaches for helping low- and middle-income Guyanese to succeed.