The Bank of Guyana (BoG) Annual Report for 2018, showed a declining trend among most of the major economic sectors in Guyana including gold, rice and sugar.
“… the output of sugar, rice, gold and fishing declined, reflecting poor weather and road conditions as well as lower domestic demand from regulatory requirements,” the report stated.
It was noted that the total gold declaration declined last year by 6.2 per cent, which is 83.3 per cent of the targeted amount of 736,000 troy ounces for 2018. This level of production, the BoG pointed out, reflects lower declarations from small and medium scale miners, which went down by 14.5 per cent.
“The local gold mining industry was hampered by increased smuggling activities and impassable roads in the hinterland regions, caused by heavy rainfall which delayed maintenance works.
In contrast, the two large foreign gold mining companies’ combined production increased by 8.6 per cent. The companies’ – Troy Resources and Guyana Goldfields Inc – shared overall declarations was higher, at 41.5 per cent compared to 35.8 per cent in 2017.
With regards to rice, the Central Bank noted that this sector declined by 0.5 per cent to approximately 626,684 tonnes, which was 101.5 per cent of the targeted amount of 617,353 tonnes for 2018.
“This outcome stemmed from poor weather conditions, paddy bug infestation, lesser hectares harvested and lower crop investments. In the first half of 2018, output of rice was 3.8 per cent lower than the 2017 level and was 52.6 per cent of the overall production,” it outlined.
Additionally, the report stated that acreage harvested last year reduced by 4.1 per cent to 86,631 hectares, compared with 90,341 hectares in 2017. Further, during the second half of 2018, production was 297,173 tonnes while acreage harvested decreased by 1.7 per cent to 80,528 hectares compared with 81,914 hectares in the previous year.
Meanwhile, the sugar sector declined by 23.8 per cent, that is, 90.6 per cent of the targeted amount of 115,447 tonnes for 2018. This outturn, the report said, was due to structural reforms of the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo), unfavourable weather conditions and lesser supply of quality canes. This resulted in the output being lower in both the first and latter halves of last year by 30.6 per cent at 34,451 tonnes and 20.0 per cent at 70,191 tonnes, respectively.
There was also a 6.2 per cent decline in the fishing sub-sector against a 1.0 per cent growth in 2017.
“The overall amount of shrimp and fish catches decreased by 6.2 per cent and 1.2 per cent respectively, attributed to market challenges, the implementation of rigorous international certification requirements and increased seaweed infestation.”
Despite these performances, however, the agriculture sector expanded by 1.5 per cent in 2018, showing a growth of 0.4 per cent over 2017. The BoG said this growth was buoyed by higher output of livestock, forestry and other crops, which more than offset the shortfalls in declining sectors.
In fact, the livestock sub-sector expanded by 23.1 per cent from a decline of 2.8 per cent in 2017. This performance was due to increased output of poultry meat and eggs by 36.7 per cent and 11.9 per cent respectively, resulting from strong consumer demand. Livestock growth was also driven by higher pork and beef production of 21.6 per cent and 0.7 per cent respectively due to enhanced production practices and better breeds.
In the forestry sector, the output of roundwood and total logs increased by 13.4 per cent and 4.3 per cent respectively, on account of favourable demand in the construction industry and improved foreign market conditions. But the output of sawnwood declined by 7.1 per cent, attributed to poor road and weather conditions.
Meanwhile, the overall mining sector improved by 2.9 per cent following an 8.8 per cent decline in 2017. This outturn was due to the increase in bauxite output and quarrying activities, which offset the shortfall in gold declarations.
Bauxite production increased by 31.9 per cent, representing 101.4 per cent of the targeted amount of 1,897,205 tonnes for 2018. The bauxite industry experienced greater production of Metal Grade (MAZ), Chemical Grade (CGB) and Refractory Grade (RASC) bauxite by 34.4 per cent, 29.2 per cent and 9.6 per cent respectively, as a result of stable demand.
Following the growth trend, total diamond declaration increased by 19.1 per cent to 62,111 carats, due to favourable market demand and an increase in average export price by 5.8 per cent to US$180.1 per metric carat from US$170.3 per metric carat at the end of 2017.
On the other hand, the manufacturing sector increased marginally by 1.0 per cent, relative to the 4.2 per cent growth in 2017. This was as a result of increased production of light manufacturing products and rice milling by 5.2 per cent and 0.2 per cent respectively. Manufacturing goods grew on account of increased production of stockfeed by 11.8 per cent, paints by 6.5 per cent, liquid pharmaceuticals by 4.5 per cent and alcoholic beverages by 3.8 per cent due to higher market demand.
The services sector, which accounted for 53.7 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2018, grew by 4.5 per cent relative to 3.6 per cent growth the previous year.
“This outcome reflected increased activities of wholesale and retail trade, rental of dwellings, financial and insurance as well as other services by 8.1 per cent, 7.5 per cent, 5.2 per cent and 14.0 per cent respectively,” the report stated.
According to the BoG, Guyana’s economic growth rate was stronger at 4.1 per cent for 2018 when compared to the 2.1 per cent growth in 2017. This, it noted, was because of higher production of bauxite, livestock, forestry and other crops as well as increases in construction, manufacturing and service activities coupled with favourable commodity prices, greater investment expenditure and moderate domestic demand, which were also major factors influencing growth.
Nevertheless, the Central Bank projects that Guyana’s economy will grow by 4.4 per cent at the end of 2019 with an expected increase in the major economic sectors.
The agriculture sector is expected to expand by 3.2 per cent, due to the increases in other crops by 4.0 per cent, production of rice by 3.4 per cent and the output of sugar by 3.2 per cent.
Meanwhile, the mining and quarrying sector is forecasted to increase by 3.4 per cent from the growth in bauxite production by 10.0 per cent and gold by 1.7 per cent. The services industry is estimated to grow by 3.7 per cent on account of higher outturns of wholesale and retail trade by 5.0 per cent and transportation and storage activities by 3.5 per cent. The construction and manufacturing industries are projected to increase by 10.5 per cent and 3.8 per cent respectively. The inflation rate is forecasted at 2.5 per cent on account of moderate increases in food and fuel prices.