While the ordinary man may feel that the country’s economic standard is deteriorating, Finance Minister Winston Jordan has assured that the existing state of affairs is an indication that the economy is in fact “righting” itself.
The Minister made the disclosure during an interview on a local radio program “Jumpstart” on Monday where he discussed exclusively the fiscal matters of the country.
According to Jordan, it would seem that some five years ago, the economy was moving ahead, however, there has not been much sustainability, and that the sectors that once propelled the economy, have now lost their way.
“The same things that was generating the growth, after 50 years they still remained. (Rice, sugar, gold, forestry, bauxite). A number of these sectors have collapsed…banks that loaned to these sectors will also have a difficult time doing business in the future because the resources are not there and their bad loan have gone up,” Jordan said.
According to him, the economy has to right itself, but yet, cannot do so on its own.
“For persons who went through the 80’s and 90’s of the restructuring of the economy by the IMF (International Monetary Fund) , if we don’t adjust the economy, we will have to hand it over to somebody to do it,” the Finance Minister said.
Jordan related that during this period, the economy has to be prepared for what is called the “take off” because on the horizon, there is high inflow of foreigners to the country and “we have to prepare the economy for that”.
The Minister said Government has to move ahead and get its $250 billion 2017 National Budget going. This, he said, is currently stymied by numerous factors including transparency and scrutiny.
Meanwhile, Jordan said Guyana’s economy is not where it needs to be, it does not stand alone, especially when compared with neighboring countries.
“We know of Suriname, Trinidad, and Barbados which recently had to fire its governor. They had to hire their former Prime Minister Owen Arthur as their chief economic adviser to help them come out of their troubles…Venezuela we know what is going on there and Brazil has its issues,” Jordan said
He continued that in all of these “oceans of problems”, Guyana remains a light of progress. He reminded that last November Government had projected a 2.6 per cent growth but with the actual numbers coming in now, the economy saw a 3.2 per cent growth last year, which he said was better than 2015.
“While this growth was led by gold, there was some good showing in the Agriculture Sector, other crops sector and a last push to the last half of the year through the implementation of the public sector program, gave a little bump over the edge,” he said.
The Finance Minister meanwhile admitted that there have been some issues with foreign exchange, however he maintained that there remains a reserve of over $600 million in the country’s central bank. He said the rates have been stabilized, although with a depreciation between $210 and $215.
As it relates to the reports of shortages in foreign exchange here, Jordan reminded that it is gold that is generating the foreign exchange.
“There is a couple of big gold dealers, and some of them do not declare the rightful amount they get from overseas and the BoG Governor is trying to work with them”. He said the law provides that all foreign exchange must be declared to a bank for exporters.
Jordan lamented that sectors areas that had a huge hand in bringing in foreign exchange are not there. However, despite that, the holdings of Foreign exchange in the commercial banks have not reduced in any way significant, he assured.