We are in good hands – sky-high confidence in our country by citizens and investors

If there is one thing that the vast majority of Guyanese agree on, it is that Guyana is in good hands. The vast majority of citizens agree that Guyana is on the right track, going in the right direction. Actually, the whole world today agrees with the citizens of Guyana. More importantly, the facts speak for themselves. When the International Monetary Fund (IMF) reports to our citizens and to the world that the rate of defaulting loans in the local banking system significantly dropped in 2021 to about 6% from almost 11% in 2020, it was providing tangible proof that Guyana is moving upwards, recovering from where we were in August 2020.
The defaulting loan rate is one of the indicators whether a country is doing good or not. At about 6% defaulting loans in Guyana, our country, among the lowest bank loan defaulting rates in the region, ranks among the best in the region. At the same time as more people are paying back their loans, Private Sector credit has expanded by 10.4%, indicating growing confidence in the country.
The IMF lauded Guyana for its strong recovery in 2021, even with the debilitating impact of COVID-19 and flood conditions due to the climate change-driven inclement weather in 2020 and 2021. In spite of these challenges, Guyana had the strongest economic performance in the Region of the Americas, and is among the top performers in the world. Most countries are still trying to stabilise their economies from the devastation of COVID-19, but Guyana has been able to move rapidly forward. While the IMF attributed Guyana’s strong performance in part to the new OIL industry, the IMF also mentioned the strong policy framework. This includes Government’s projects to cut electricity charges, improving transport infrastructure, diversifying the economy, improving social services, and the LCDS.
Last week, the President was among fisherfolk. About 5,000 fisherfolk supply fish to vendors and exporters for shipping fish products overseas. Altogether, between 30,000 and 40,000 persons depend on the fishing industry for their livelihood. For some time now, fishermen have had to invest more money and spend more time at sea to maintain the same amount of catch.
This has nothing to do with EXXON. Ministers of Agriculture Satyadeow Sawh, Robert Persaud and I had to deal with this challenge long before EXXON. Fisherfolk across the world have been dealing with declining catch for a couple of decades now. Climate change is having its own impact on the fishing industry. Whatever the reasons for diminishing production of ocean fish, fisherfolk are having a horrendous time maintaining their income. President Ali heard their pleas. The President announced a cash grant of $150,000 per person for all fisherfolk. This is not a solution; it is an assistance for immediate relief. It is another example of a Government responding to the people’s needs.
Even as President Ali was announcing help for fisherfolk, he also was announcing, this very week, a cash grant assistance programme for children with disabilities: $100,000 per child annually; automatic qualification for public assistance, transportation and a modern business center to support businesses for disabled persons.
At the same time, Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo was in Region 6, implementing a $325M fertiliser subsidy for farmers in Region 6, part of a $1B fertiliser support programme. He also organised a group to implement a programme for farmers to get access to 3,000 acres of farm land, launched part-time jobs’ initiative for 3,000 persons, $100M grant for small businesses, and the soon-to-start expansion of the Corentyne Highway at a cost of over $4B. Just before going to Region 6, the Vice President engaged miners, and subsidies and tax abatement programmes amounting to almost $3B were announced. The miners, often persons who usually vote for the PNC, across the board lauded the Government. This is a Government of the people, responsive to the people’s needs.
For most people, Sunday is a day of rest, enjoying time with family and friends. But just scan the news and social media for a few minutes, you will see the President and Vice-President out and about among the people. So, too, are Ministers. People flock everywhere in every region in every part of the country to see and interact with their President, Vice-President, Prime Minister and other Government Ministers. President Ali has elevated what it means to be a People’s President, or a People’s Government.
He leads clean-up campaigns, plays cricket with children, goes to faith organisations, attend NGOs events; he is literally everywhere. The Government is out in the community, addressing concerns, solving problems, taking care of citizens. The President and the Vice President are not just popular everywhere in Guyana, they have become political rock stars at home and abroad. All the while, not only busy being among the people, but taking care of the country’s business.
Far from the cacophony emanating from the naysayers, who find something wrong with everything happening in our country, the citizens and investors and the whole world are excited about where Guyana is going, and what is happening. Our country is transforming in front of our eyes at a dizzying pace. The naysayers are desperate, trying to find anything to distract our people. But to their chagrin, we are in good hands.