Economy still in a slump, Govt working on reversing slowdown- Harmon

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…says by pumping “huge sums of money into the economy”

State Minister, Joseph Harmon on Thursday said that the government is taking every step to ensure that economic activities are revitalised, and that money continues to flow into the economy.

The Minister was at the time addressing the media at a post-Cabinet press briefing at the Ministry of the Presidency, on how the government is moving to treat with the reports of the country’s economic slow-down, and talks by some sections of the business community of laying-off some of their workers.

Minister Harmon, in responding said that these reports have been made and in fact have been taken very seriously by Cabinet. He explained that due to these reports, President David Granger has on at least three recent occasions summoned some of the key sector ministers including Finance, Agriculture, Business and Natural Resources to look at options on how to address the slow-down.

Further the minister said that in responding to the slow-down, the government is moving to “pump huge sums of money into the economy” that would generate employment and economic activities.

He noted the $5 Billion that the government will be pouring into the housing sector for the delivery and construction of 758 housing units in Regions 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 10. The money for the construction of these units is projected to have a ripple effect across the economy. It is expected to create employment opportunities for thousands, and increase the demand for construction material.

Minister Harmon assured that, “the economy is always on the forefront of our considerations, not only in the Cabinet but in all of our government undertakings. The impact that the economy has on the people of this country is something which we are very careful about dealing with.”

Minister Harmon did however, point out that the economic slow-down in the country has to be taken in conjunction with economic reality of the neighbouring countries such as Suriname, Brazil, Venezuela and Trinidad and Tobago which are in deep recession, due to falling oil prices and other economic crises.

“These economic (realities) are not strange, people are reading, they are on the internet and they understand what is going on internationally,” he said. “We are doing our best to ensure that we do not have to go down the road, where some of these countries have gone,” he added.

Guyana has been dependent on traditional export products and, as a result, the economy has suffered as bauxite, gold, sugar and rice prices have fallen.

Harmon earlier this month had expressed similar sentiments about the state of the economy, while noting that austerity measures, which included among other things, recycling envelopes, were some of the ways government was looking to save on expenditures.

“There are practical measures which will be used by the government to ensure the austerity that I am talking about and that the monies which you have will last you longer and that you don’t have to go back later in the year (to the National Assembly) for supplementary (funds) so it is really about being very sensible and using the resources which you have to the best of your ability,” he had said.

However former President and current Opposition Leader, Dr Bharat Jagdeo, a trained economist by profession holds the view that the current state of the economy is primarily influenced by the “incompetence” of the incumbent Administration to manage its affairs.

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