EYEWITNESS: Taking control… of our financing

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With our economy set on an exponential growth trajectory on account of our just as exponentially growing oil industry, VP Bharrat Jagdeo had reason to highlight to our Private Sector the challenges of securing financing if they’re to get their fair share of the presented opportunities. The bottom line of the challenge is that our Private Sector – stuck in their mom-and-pop business mentality – just don’t have the experience of dealing with the magnitude of the financing that’s needed for exploiting the opportunities.

Take the gas-to-shore project that the Government has taken the lead in realising so as to slash the cost of electricity. Once that fixed cost of supplying natural gas to the Wales Development Estate is determined, it makes sense for an ammonia and urea plant to be established here. After all, with cheap energy and the raw material being made available in tandem with guaranteed markets for fertilisers, since the Government is committed to agriculture as the linchpin of development to avoid the dreaded “Dutch Disease”, it’s a no-brainer, isn’t it??

But the challenge would be the financing, since a plant to satisfy our present and future ammonia and urea needs would easily cost hundreds of millions of dollars.

Are our businesses and banks able and ready to cover such an investment? Your Eyewitness doesn’t think so, and that’s why he supports calls for the Government to take the lead in catalysing these larger productive businesses. But the VP announced an initiative to help the Private Sector: increasing the number of financing institutions. Not necessarily only commercial banks, which harvest local savings and don’t necessarily – like Republic Bank – intermediate those funds for investments by locals.

The VP was reported as saying, “Government is re-exploring the granting of new licences to a number of commercial banks – an area of significant interest. We’ve had a large interest in this sector, and a fairly high number of banks that have applied, so we’re thinking about expanding that a little more aggressively. We are going to be licensing institutions that are non-deposit-taking institutions, so that they can bring in additional capital without putting the local savings at a risk.”

And this last line is crucial. Even though, in the modern financialised world, the banking sector has broken out of the deposit-and-loans commercial syndrome, Guyana hasn’t followed suit. There’s no bank in Guyana that really focuses on investment banking. And on that note, we notice First Citizen Bank from Trinidad attempting to take over the local Scotiabank operations. Your Eyewitness feels we’ve been exploited enough by that other TT bank – Republic Bank.

Please…not another one; especially since it brings nothing new to the table!

…of Parliament

At long last, the Speaker has decided that enough is enough with the descent of our Parliaments into the sewer through the assiduous efforts of the PNC and its enablers. The answer was certainly not to allow the PPP MPs to “fight fire with fire”, since we’ve seen that for sure this would only guarantee that Parliament is burnt to the ground. The answer is to bring the PNC recalcitrants to heel by enforcing the rules that have been honed over centuries for that very purpose.

As such, the Speaker suspended about five of them, including Lampy, who’s now the PNC’s Chief Whip, and Pampy, for various infractions, so as to get the Budget passed. Lampy refused to take his seat along with his other MPs – even after the Speaker warned him three times. The others kept videoing the proceedings inside Parliament, even though they had been explicitly warned several times that that is not permitted.

The PNC can’t be allowed to derail the PPP’s programme!

…Jagan’s legacy

Today’s the anniversary of the passing of the first Premier of our country, Cheddi Jagan. While many might’ve disagreed with his political philosophy, none really can deny his pioneering role in pulling Guyana into political modernity through his mobilisation efforts after 1943.

A hat tip to his memory.