Your Eyewitness was asked to expand on the cryptic remark he made yesterday on Winston Jordan’s criticism of Finance Minister Ashni Singh’s announcement that his Government was raising both our domestic and foreign debt ceiling. Jordan, who was in the back office of the Finance Ministry when Singh was then his Minister, is running around like Chicken Little screaming, “The sky is falling!!! The sky is falling!!!” about the move.
All Jordan’s doing with his histrionics is confirming that he knows squat about economics or finance. He was just a numbers cruncher who filled in figures on a template when budgets were being compiled from inputs from budgetary agencies.
First of all, what exactly is this “debt ceiling”? Even Jordan should understand this: it’s a “ceiling” or limit to what the Government can actually borrow; domestically from US$.75B to US$2.5B, and externally to US$1.25B.
Now, Government can borrow domestically from local banks, and do this all the time by selling T-Bills or Bonds of a specified duration at stipulated interest to the said banks. The US has been raising its debt ceilings hundreds of percentage points in the last decades! Foreign debt is accrued when the Government borrows from external multilateral or bilateral sources, like the IDB or CDB etc. The first thing to note is that, unlike what Jordan is implying with his hysterics, the Government has NOT actually borrowed the new amounts!!
Governments spend only AFTER they pass Budgets in the National Assembly – or when they’ve overspent (as the PNC just did to the tune of $75B) – by passing Supplementary Spending Bills. And when these Budgets/Bills are passed, the Opposition and the nation are fully apprised as to what the money is going to be used for during the extensive debates. Now, the Government had already announced in its Manifesto what it intends to spend on in the next five years: bridges, highways, electricity generating plants, a new city, stabilising the old economy and facilitating diversification, deeper social nets etc.
All these things demand money, not magic wands. And since the PPP isn’t planning to squeeze the Guyanese public dry like sucked oranges – like the PNC did – it’s saying up front that, like any entrepreneurial entity, it expects to supplement its funds by borrowing. And, like any entrepreneur worth his salt, it expects to pay off its debt from generated income!
Jordan’s panic alarm comes from his PNC experience, which has proven – in all the PNC’s incarnations – that it only knows to spend, not to earn. The PPP, on the other hand, has shown that it knows how to stimulate business activity – from which the taxes would generate the revenues to service the debts.
The PNC can’t even expand a cake shop!
…in moral turpitude
Some people have no shame, but Hamilton Green takes the cake. He earned his spurs as the “muscle” for Burnham’s Mafia that terrorised Guyana between 1961 and 1964 in the racial riots that put the PNC into office. Then he burnished that reputation until 1985 as Burnham transformed his private Mafia to consolidate his public dictatorship. And now, after his “spiritual moral renewal” spiel has fallen flat – through actions like justifying Granger’s Mingo rig – he’s invoking Gandhi!!
In a letter, “Five Lessons from Gandhi’s Assassination”, he said, “The world was shocked as he (Gandhi) lived his life proposing non-violence, but violence was used against him.” So, what about the irony of he, Hamilton Green, living his life proposing violence and now citing Gandhi?? Or about this diehard extremist’s “takeaway” from Gandhi’s assassination: “Beware of and be able to identify the extremists in our midst.”
Your Eyewitness wonders what lesson he learnt from the assassination of our own Walter Rodney.
…in the haze
As we move closer to passing the “weed bill”, your Eyewitness croons, “Pass the dutchie on the left-hand side…Pass the dutchie on the left-hand side…Give me little music mek me wine up me waist”!