Finance Minister Winston Jordan on Thursday pronounced that Guyana’s debt profile remains stable and sustainable and in fact asserted: “We are in a better position today than 15 months ago, when this Government entered office.”
Jordan was at the time seeking to rubbish earlier claims by Former President Donald Ramotar, who during the course of the week had accused the current coalition A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance for Change (APNU/AFC) Government of racking up significant debt which he pegged at more than 60 per cent of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Ramotar made the charge in the context of the debt that had been racked up by the People’s National Congress (PNC) while in office during the 28 years prior to 1992.
Finance Minister Winston Jordan has since debunked the claims made by Ramotar, saying: “We will neither be sidetracked nor otherwise distracted by the diatribe of a failed president.”
Jordan in his dismissal of the former president’s—a Russian trained economist—assertions that Guyana’s debt is climbing said: “Mr Ramotar claims that concerns were being raised in many quarters, but failed to identify a single instance of such. “
Jordan said too, that he is unfamiliar with the source of the former president’s claims that the nation’s debt has been on the increase and in fact accused Ramotar of attempting to “pass a falsehood on to the Guyanese people, hoping it would resonate.”
According to the Finance Minister, the total public debt to GDP ratio at the end of December 2015 was 48.6 per cent, down from 51.9 per cent at the end of December 2014.
He said too that the total debt service to revenue ratio at June 2016 was 7.5 per cent compared to 9.3 per cent at June 2015.
According to Jordan, since coming to office, in May 2015, the coalition government has in fact only contracted a total of three loans for a value of US$55.3 million.
He pointed to the a US$1.6 million loan for a farm Access Road Project; US$3.7 million for the University of Guyana’s Science and Technology Project Extension, and a US$50 million Loan for the construction of the Ogle Bypass Road.
Jordan was adamant that of this amount only US$1.4 million has been disbursed and counted as part of the public debt:
“All of these loans were at the discussion stage with the PPP/C Government, prior to May 2015.”
He said too that between June 2015 and June 2016, the total public debt, comprising external and domestic debt, increased by less than 1 per cent, or from US$1.54 billion to US$1.55 billion.
According to Jordan, “this marginal increase reflects an increase in the issuance of 91-day and 182-day Treasury bills.”
The Finance Minister pointed out too that the total public debt had declined from US$1.6 billion at end-December 2014 to US$1.54 billion at end-December 2015.
He was adamant that Guyana’s debt profile remains stable and sustainable: “We are in a better position today than 15 months ago, when this Government entered office.”
According to Jordan however, “what the Guyanese populace should know, though, is that, at the time the PPP/C Government left office, there were 31 disbursing loans with an approved value of US$616.2 million.”
He said of that amount, less than half or US$245.7 million, had been disbursed and, thus, formed part of the national debt.
“The balance of US$370.5 million will be disbursed in future…So, even if this Government did not contract a single new loan in the coming years, the national debt will still increase by US$370.5 million, less any sums that would have been repaid or written-off over that period.”
According to Jordan, since his demitting office, following two consecutive rejections at the polls by the majority of Guyanese, Ramotar has been occupying himself with writing letters to the press, all of which contain spurious allegations that are designed more to inflame than inform the populace.
The Finance Minister reminded of government’s commitment to maintaining a strong macroeconomic position, “that is conducive to the growth of the economy and increasing its international competitiveness.”
According to Jordan: “In our single-minded pursuit of this objective, we will neither be side-tracked nor otherwise distracted by the diatribe of a failed president, whose Goebbelsian posture will not be allowed to gain traction in our society.”