– says APNU/AFC government needs to start accepting that the economy is in “reverse gear”
The Mid-Year Report presented by Finance Minister Winston Jordan last week confirmed our worst fears. The economy is decelerating with all the key sectors displaying signs of extreme distress and compounding the situation is the fact that Government wants Guyanese to believe in a fairy tale – that the El Niño phenomenon was responsible for the dismal economic performance.
This is according to Chairperson of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), Opposition Member of Parliament Irfaan Ali. In his analysis of the 2016 Mid-Year Report, the former Tourism, Industry and Commerce Minister said: “It is not too late for the Government to reverse the economic collapse.”
Ali, in his assessment, said in order for Government to turn things around, it had to start by accepting the economy was in “reverse gear”, then craft an appropriate economic plan that would place the country back on a positive growth trajectory.
“We must remember that the first step to solving a problem is to accept it exists. Hiding our heads in the sand like the proverbial ostrich will not help. It will only create more false hope in the short term,” Ali advised.
Ali, an economist by training, has since observed that in addition to the stagnant economic growth rate, “even more depressing is the fact the local economy decelerated for a second year in succession, amidst the recovery of international commodity prices and the Golden Jubilee celebration that was expected to resuscitate or breathe new life into a slowly dying economy.”
He has surmised that the poor performance of the economy may be attributed to notable contractions in key sectors that were masked by the increased production reported by the large mining companies, namely Guyana Goldfields Inc and Troy Resources.
“For the first time in our recent history, the entire economy is carried by one sector… not so long ago, our economy benefited from growth in multiple sectors, including agriculture, services and manufacturing which helped us to weather the stormy external environment,” Ali pointed out.
Taking a jab at Government and its resort to blaming weather for the poor economic performance, Ali recalled that Guyana was able to survive the global economic and financial crises and managed to record positive growth, when economies in the Caribbean and the rest of the world were collapsing.
“This year El Niño alone disrupted the entire economy… almost every sector was adversely affected by El Niño, according to the Minister of Finance in his half-year report,” a sarcastic Ali remarked.
He suggested that while the poor performance of several industries may be attributed to the uncertainty created from the review/renegotiation by the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Government of concessions granted to foreign investors, “the Minister would like us to accept his fairytale story that El Niño was responsible”.
Ali is of the opinion that without a doubt things were “dry” in the country, “We have a drought with respect to ideas from the Government to move the country forward economically.”
He reminded too of the growing criticism emanating from the Opposition camp that to date the Government was yet to present a comprehensive economic plan for Guyana.