When an agricultural base has been laid and perhaps a small complex of light industry has been created, our economy will be sufficiently developed for us to turn our full attention to the next vital stage in our development, namely, industrialisation. (It should be emphasised here that in practise these stages of our development will not be so clearly demarcated. It is only for the sake of exposition that they can be so conveniently divided). The question of industrialisation will raise the most vital questions in connection with our future. When examining these problems we should bear in mind some unpleasant facts. The current development programme is largely devoted to agriculture in the form of drainage and irrigation schemes designed to bring more lands into production. Small as it is, it is financed almost entirely by foreign funds in the form of loans or grants. It is likely that most of the funds for our next development programme will have to be raised abroad, though certain factors, such as the efficiency of the Government, public co-operation and the constructive energies that might be released by independence, can all serve to increase our revenue and by providing an internal source of development funds reduce our reliance on outside help. The raising of funds abroad may well present some difficulty, especially if we continue in our present condition. We should at least be able however to raise sufficient funds to continue agricultural development on a reasonable scale. However, the problem will be on quite a different scale when we are faced with the question of industrialisation. At this stage the whole question might be put in a broader historical perspective. Can any country have an industrial revolution without considerable external assistance? If not, can we have an Industrial future as a separate nation or only as part of a larger federation or other organisation.
It is necessary to disgress here to make the very necessary observation that our industrial future must be planned on the basis of our natural resources. An assessment of these resources will of course be the prelude to any industrial development programme. It would obviously make a tremendous difference if large quantities of oil or some other vital raw material were discovered. These possibilities can only be studied separately on the basis of detailed reports. In the meantime, certain general questions can be considered though obviously they would have to be comprehensively reviewed in the light of any discoveries.
The first and most important problem is the one outlined above, namely, the source from which the capital investment required will be raised. It has been argued that there are only two possible solutions to the problem of generating sufficient capital to achieve economic take-off, namely, the receipt of external assistance or the exploitation by a ruling class or by the Government of the large majority of the population. England used both methods in the capitalist exploitation of the working class and the imperialist exploitation of the colonies. Russia relied almost entirely on the latter method in the brutal exploitation of labour under Stalin. Other countries used a combination of both methods though in many cases, unlike England, the external assistance was in the form of private capital investment from abroad. Though these general conclusions may be rather sweeping one fact seems abundantly clear and that is, that even under the most rigid form of dictatorship Guyana would not be able to accumulate sufficient capital internally to finance her own industrial development. This leaves two solutions, to encourage private investment from abroad and locally or to solicit aid. It is possible, of course, to help ourselves to some extent by internal measures but the central problem of external assistance remains and is fundamental to any consideration of our future.
Certain subsidiary questions will also arise, particularly the following: What is the minimum size of population required for the development of various types of light and heavy industry on the basis or a protected home market? Have we sufficient population for this purpose? (If not, is it perhaps possible to overcome this by a policy of planned immigration? Such immigration would presumably be largely by means of new agricultural settlements, the main factors to be considered being the capital required for initial investment and the amount of people that could be settled). If immigration will not provide a solution, is it perhaps possible to industrialise on the basis of world market prices, that is to say, can the new industries produce immediately or fairly soon at competitive prices or will subsidies be required and if so to what extent?
Alternatively, can long-term agreements be obtained providing guaranteed markets and prices for the products of new industries for a period sufficient to tide over teething troubles? While these questions require some analysis, it might reasonably be estimated in advance of more detailed enquiry that our population is clearly too small to support industrialisation on the basis of a home market and it is highly unlikely that immigration can be planned on a scale large enough to make a difference. Therefore, it seems likely that unless we entered into some form of economic union we would need aid both for investment and in the form of protected markets as it is extremely improbable that the new industries would be able to compete at once on the world market or that the government would be able to afford the necessary subsidies.