Former President Donald Ramotar has described Guyana’s economic growth for the first half of this year as ‘shameful,’ given that the economy was thriving under the previous People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government which he had
managed for three years.
The former Head of State has said that although the economy recorded real growth of 2.2 per cent in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) during the first half of 2017, this is not anything to boast about, and only reveals the incompetence of the coalition Government.
Ramotar recalled that under his administration, when the Opposition had a one-seat majority in the National Assembly, they used it to their advantage to stymie the work of the PPP/C, but even under those circumstances, the country still recorded even higher economic growth.
Describing the coalition Government as incompetent and visionless, the former President claimed that irresponsible management style has a lot to do with the country’s poor economic performance.
“This is an indictment on this Government, when they inherited a growing economy,” he added.
Ramotar says the current economic situation proves that what is taking place now was inevitable, because there is a direct connection between democracy and economic and social development. “They still have time to take stock of what they are doing and change course, otherwise we are going to end up right back at where we were in the 1970s and the 1980s,” he predicted.
Commenting on the 12.6 per cent or $3.4 billion deterioration in non-performing loans recorded in the local financial sector, Ramotar said this is also an indication that Government does not have what it takes to stimulate growth and development in the local economy.
“It’s because the economy is not doing well (that) you have this increase in bad loans. A lot of these people are those who take money to purchase their homes, and something terrible has to happen for (them) not to reach their commitment; and if they can’t meet that, it shows how rapidly our economy is deteriorating,” he explained.
In the Finance Ministry’s 2017 Half-Year Report, it was revealed that the private sector’s credit had increased while the exchange rate had remained constant. This marginal increase was mainly driven by the expansion of the agriculture, fishing, and forestry sectors. The manufacturing, construction, and service sectors also made significant contributions.
Growth in the agriculture, fishing, and forestry sectors was led by expansion in the rice and fishing industries attributable to favourable international prices, strong demand, and entry into new markets.
Non-sugar growth declined from 3.1 per cent in the first half of 2016 to 2.4 percent during the same period in 2017.
But Ramotar contends that although these figures have been produced, he is positive that growth in the economy came directly from the gold and mining sector. He said if this sector were doing poorly, then the economy, by a large extent, would have been worse off, especially since the downsizing of the sugar sector has started to take full effect.
The report said the non-financial Public Sector deficit is expected to be in line with the budget, as the anticipated over-achievement of the revenue target should compensate for the additional expenditure in areas of crime and security and public infrastructure.
The other macroeconomic variables, such as inflation and the exchange rate will be kept in check.