The country the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) inherited from the People’s National Congress (PNC) in 1992, after 28 years of devastating mismanagement, nepotism, corruption and dictatorship, was a poverty-stricken, broken, dictatorial country, worse than it was in 1964. The country the PNC (now reincarnated into APNU/AFC) inherited in 2015 from the PPP, on the other hand, was the fastest growing democratic economy in Caricom, with an impressive record in reducing poverty and hunger, and, improving the social welfare needs of her people. Now, just about five years later, APNU/AFC has mismanaged Guyana back to the pre-1992 era, again victimised by dictatorship, incompetence, nepotism, corruption and a stifled economy.
But David Granger and the APNU/AFC are busy shamelessly rewriting history today. Their disgraceful narrative is the PNC handed the PPP, in 1992, a glorious country, which the PPP destroyed between 1992 and 2015. Consequently, in their narrative, in 2015, APNU/AFC inherited from the PPP a country that was bankrupt, broken, and poverty-stricken. This distorted narrative, total fabrication and lies, salutes the Goebellian theory that a lie told often with a straight face becomes the truth.
The truth is very different, as verified by many academic studies and reports from the World Bank, IDB and other international sources. The PPP inherited in 1992 a highly indebted poor country (HIPC), with a poverty rate of 67%, a poorly-developed, dangerously dilapidated infrastructure, with health and education, housing and sanitation among the worst in the world. Access to utilities like water, electricity, and telephone were among the worst for developing countries anywhere. In 1992, Guyana was ranked among the most indebted countries in the world, with a debt of US $2.1B, more than 900% of its GDP. By 1992, 28 years after independence, Guyana was bankrupt and worse-off than it was in 1964, pre-independence. Guyana in 1992 was the very definition of what US President Trump today calls “s…hole” countries.
The PPP inherited an economy in shambles in 1992. Guyana averaged minus 2.2% growth between 1981 to 1991, Gross National Product (GNP) per capita declined from $US350 in 1964 to US$290 by 1992, moving from among Caricom’s best in 1964 to among the worse in 1992; the population living below poverty line was 67% (Clive Thomas claimed 88%); inflation averaged close to 100%; lending rates of the commercial banks was 35% and the principal exchange rate moved from $2.00 in 1964 to $125 by 1992; fiscal deficit represented 66.2 per cent of GDP in 1992; the external debt of the country increased to US$2.1B by 1992, more than 900% of GDP; the physical infrastructure was in disrepair and essential consumables in short supply. Sugar, rice, bauxite, and gold – the staples of the economy— were all declining. Public servant salaries by 1992 had declined to about $US25 per month. Old-age pension was about $1US per month and only some people were eligible. The PPP inherited a bankrupt, basket-case country in 1992.
Between 1992 and 2015, the PPP transformed Guyana. Let the facts speak: in the social sector – health, education, water, housing, sanitation, social security, sports, culture, youth – the PPP allocated close to 40% of the budget by 2001 to the social sector, compared to less than 7% in 1992. The impact was dramatic. Poverty rates were reduced from more than 67% in 1990 to below 28% by 2015, with severe poverty reduced from about 30% to below 18%. The UN in 2014 awarded Guyana with a gold medal for eliminating hunger before the MDG deadline of 2015. Life expectancy increased from about 60 in 1992 to 70 by 2015. More than 75,000 new homes were constructed between 1992 and 2015, with more than 120,000 new house lots created. Potable water access, about 30% in 1992, reached almost 90%, among the highest in developing countries by 2015. Electricity access doubled in the period between 1992 and 2015, mainly because generation capacity doubled. Maternal mortality was reduced from more than 80 deaths to about 12 and child mortality from more than 2,500 children to less than 200 per year between 1991 and 2015. Secondary school access improved from about 33% (1992) to almost 100% by 2015, and Guyanese children routinely topped Caricom.
The infrastructure totally changed, with hundreds of miles of new and vastly improved existing roads, including four-lane highways. The Berbice River Bridge, a more stable Demerara River bridge, new ferry boats changed transportation realities in Guyana. Guyana’s first stadium hosted world cup cricket, our first Olympic-size aquatic centre hosts international swimming and Guyana’s first athletic stadium provides international standards training. Guyana’s first convention centre stand alongside a spanking new Caricom headquarters. Shopping malls sprouted everywhere. A new University of Guyana campus in Berbice and technical institutes around the country provide more access to tertiary and technical education. There are new schools and hospitals in every region of the country. Truly, the PPP transformed Guyana, the story very different from Granger’s and APNU/AFC’s fake narrative. The tragedy, however, is that the gains Guyana made in moving from a highly indebted, poor, low-income country in 1992 to a fast-developing middle-income country by 2015 is now in jeopardy because of APNU/AFC. That is why the people have lost confidence in Granger and his reincarnated PNC (APNU/AFC).