To say that Guyana is in a quagmirical state at this juncture would be an understatement. There is no doubt that the populace is suffering from the twin evils of a viral pandemic occasioned by external factors and the erosion of our democracy occasioned by the greed of a few internal APNU/AFC “leaders”, who are hell-bent on holding on to the precipice of power.
The political aspect of this was addressed in a prior editorial.
However, what does this invariably mean for Guyana’s economy as an oil producing country? To put it subtly, the road ahead will be a rough one. With the global economy, and more so the First World countries that have been affected, reeling from the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the globalised/liberalised market that we have come to rely on has essentially been plunged into a recessionary state.
This is due primarily to countries having to forcibly shut down their workforce/productive sectors to contain the spread of the virus. As such, the wheels of production, and by extension growth, have come to a halt.
The trickledown effect that this will have on developing countries such as ours, while not quantified as this point, will be tremendous, to say the least.
One only has to look at remittances, Foreign Direct Investment, Guyana’s proclivity to import more than it exports, and our reliance on those same imports for sustenance, and the picture becomes clear that the absence of these will have devastating consequences for us.
Moreover, with movement restricted, flights to destinations around the world will be grounded, as would the transportation sector. What this means is that the demand for fuel (oil) will drastically decrease, and so will the selling price for same. Right now, the world market price for oil has plummeted to US$23 per barrel, with experts outlining that prices are expected to decrease further.
As such, there is no doubt that Guyana’s revenue from its fledgling oil sector would be paltry. Had the incumbent APNU/AFC championed for a better signing bonus and royalty, maybe we would have been in a better position to receive more, regardless of the state of production.
Further exacerbating this dynamic is that Guyana’s economy, which has already contracted with the delays and uncertainty of the 2020 elections, has now ground to a halt as we struggle to address the viral pandemic under the auspices of the incumbent caretaker administration, whose constitutional legitimacy has come into question post March 2nd.
Under this dispensation, one can infer that any policy direction coming from the incumbent, even health-wise, will not hold the same significance and veracity as that of a legitimate administration which has the confidence of the majority of persons who voted for same.
It is therefore logical that, for Guyana to have a sliver of hope going forward, we first have to address objectively the legitimate concerns of elections rigging on the part of the APNU/AFC/GECOM. The only way to do this is to have the votes recounted and all the parties, including the international community, satisfied that the process was credible and fair.
The stark warning delivered to Guyana’s US Ambassador Mr Riyad Insanally, that every vote must be counted and any attempt to swear in a Government on “flawed election results” will be sanctionable, serves as the most formal warning yet from the US that good sense must prevail in Guyana.
Having a legitimate Government installed is the first step towards providing the populace with the confidence that the only economic threat that Guyana currently has to deal with is related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
We can recover more quickly from the pandemic than from the effects of sanctions and economic starvation that characterise life under a dictatorship, which it seems the APNU/AFC is comfortable having us under.