Director of the Department of Energy, Dr Mark Bynoe has called on Indigenous leaders to craft a strategic plan to ensure their communities benefit equally from oil and gas resources.Department of Energy Director Dr Mark BynoeThe Department of Public Information (DPI) reported that Bynoe made the call while addressing the over 200 Toshaos and other Indigenous leaders in Georgetown for the 13th National Toshaos Council (NTC) Conference at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (ACCC).He is quoted by DPI as saying, “It must not just be a band-aid solution to address an immediate need, it should be focused towards where is it you want to go as a community, as a village and how is it you are going to get there… the biggest question that people ask is ‘when the monies begin to flow, how much will come to my region?’ The first thing I say is to have a plan… that in time to come you can have a defined pathway of how you will be able to improve the wellbeing of your people”.The Director also explained that Guyana will not automatically be transformed with first oil since the $62 billion only represents about 10 per cent of Guyana’s current Gross Domestic Product (GDP).“It is important that we understand that as we move forward within this sector… that we need to prioritise. Government also needs to prioritise as there are multiple demands on the limited resources, they have at their disposal inclusive of improvement in healthcare, education, enhanced infrastructure, enhanced water quality, while also seeking to ensure that we have more sustainable livelihood opportunities,” the Director stated.Some of the Indigenous leaders at the National Toshaos Council Conference 2019 (DPI photo)While providing an overview of the new and emerging sector, Dr Bynoe explained that in terms of direct benefits, Guyana is entitled to two per cent royalty and 12.2 per cent of profit oil in the initial stages. As it relates to direct employment opportunities, to date there are over 1300 Guyanese who are already employed directly in the sector. Guyana has also benefitted from over $150 million already injected into the sector.He further outlined that going forward, indirect benefits will include associated gas which can help in electricity stability and the reduction of the cost of energy, and even more training opportunities. Dr Bynoe added that while the Administration is keen on ensuring all Guyanese are getting their “fair share”, just as important is the fact that their capacity is built through training to ensure they are working alongside those external experts to ensure those skills are transferred.The Toshaos called for more education and awareness programmes on oil and gas within the hinterland villages. The Department of Energy Head said that the Department has recognised the need to conduct more awareness sessions in these areas and will be moving in that direction.Guyana first discovered oil in May 2015. US oil giant ExxonMobil has made 14 discoveries while UK company, Tullow has made two discoveries.