Economist warns of ‘brewing danger’ in Guyana

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…says massive borrowing, no investments will cripple economy

Reminiscent of policies pursued during the 1970s and 1980s, Economic Adviser to the Leader of the Opposition, Dr Peter Ramsaroop, believes that there is “danger brewing”, evident in recent actions taken by Head of State, David Granger.
Dr Ramsaroop, a People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) candidate during the 2015 General Elections, in an interview with Guyana Times this week, pointed to the recent imbroglio over the repossession of Red House through executive order and the passage of Bills in Parliament, which with “his one vote majority, he gives orders to go into our bank accounts and seize funds without a court order, to limit our travels when they see fit”.

Dr. Peter Ramsaroop

According to Dr Ramsaroop, scepticism about the APNU/AFC Government is looming across the nation, with the entire population.
“Politically it is using its power in an anarchistic manner… I believe many are wrong for blaming (Finance) Minister (Winston) Jordan for his incompetence when it comes to finance, although that is true… It is really the President’s lack of macro and micro-economic policies that are allowing his Ministers to appear as renegades, taxing and spending our hard-earned money without regards to our well-being.”
According to Dr Ramsaroop, “we know that 2017 is now the year of taxation and borrowing of debt”. He recalled that in March 2007, under then President Bharrat Jagdeo’s leadership, the Inter-American Development Bank (IBD), Guyana’s principal donor, cancelled Guyana’s nearly US$470 million debt, equivalent to 21 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which was borrowed by the People’s National Congress (PNC) Government of the 1980s.
Guyana, he said, had become heavily indebted as a result of the inward-looking, State-led development model pursued in the 1970s and 1980s.
“I do not believe we will be that lucky again… The bad habits of the PNC/APNU [A Partnership for National Unity] are once again playing out… What is APNU doing with all our taxes? What are they doing with all the borrowing?” he questioned.
Dr Ramsaroop told Guyana Times, “We were in the top 50 in the world on our GDP growth when the PPP demitted office. We are now at the bottom of 160 plus countries.”

SUGAR INDUSTRY
Compounding the situation, according to Dr Ramsaroop, is Government’s closure of sugar factories and “putting our citizens on the unemployment line is economically irrational…The unemployment of sugar workers and so much more to come from the other estates have damaged the moral, social and economic fabric of our nation”.
Dr Ramsaroop has since posited that this would lead to social and economic marginalisation of those affected as they struggle to take care of their families and pay their bills.
The Government, he said, basically has shut down Guyana’s economy.
“We have seen a rapid decline in the levels of output, income and employment, while placing a heavy-handed taxation on each of us,” he said.

NO NEW INVESTMENTS
Dr Ramsaroop recalled too there have been no new major investments in the nation.  In fact, Dr Ramsaroop is of the opinion that the APNU’s bullyism has scared the investors from the country.
He suggested too that the Alliance For Change (AFC) – the party he once served as Chief Executive Officer – was weak: “they are just mannequins, figures now in the PNC Government.”
Dr Ramsaroop said the country was currently at a stage where it has to increasingly compete with other countries to attract Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) by offering a number of incentives and other concessionary measures.
He said policies to reduce the tax burden on firms were key to attracting foreign companies, but instead “this Government has no skills or policies necessary to attract new investments”.
He noted that it was the PPP Government that brought in the top three gold mining companies that were currently holding up the country’s economy.
“They (PPP) were the ones that brought in ExxonMobil and other oil companies, all the call centres, which in turn created thousands of jobs and provided positive growth to our economy… What has APNU done?” he questioned.
Dr Ramsaroop has since concluded that “our current economic woes are exacerbated by a government which seems to be sowing the seeds of perpetual discord by taking arbitrary action which many see as ill-thought through.”
According to the economist, “what is needed is an urgent reappraisal of the issues that are causing so much damage to large sections of the population”.

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