By Ramona Luthi
Former Minister and current Opposition Member of Parliament, Irfaan Ali, during the Budget 2018 debates which kicked off in the National Assembly this morning, said Government’s promise of a “good life” for Guyanese has turned out to be nothing more than a “good lie.”
“… reality is that it was a good lie and not a good life,” Ali told the House.
In producing a statistical report today, Ali said that in addition to the Finance Minister, Winston Jordan being wrong in his growth predictions twice in 2017, “there is a bigger picture that supports the view that the economy has lost its vibrancy.”
He asserted that since coming into power in 2015, the economy has limped along to the elusive “good life concept”, highlighting that this is most evident in the sub-optimal growth which has been registered in the past three years.
The Parliamentarian directed the House to article 4 of the International Monetary Fund Surveillance report as he pointed out the consistent decline in the country’s growth since 2015.
“… potential growth for 2015, our potential to grow in 2015 was 4.07 %. We underachieved. Our achieved growth was only 3.93%- under performance of the economy. Our potential to grow in 2016 was pegged at 3.93%, we only achieved a 3.4%. Again, we underachieved in 2016. And using the same analytical framework- which is the Hodrick Prescott filter used by the IMF- in 2017 our growth potential would have been 3.79%. Again we underachieved, (and) only now projected to grow by 2.9%,” he explained.
Ali said that “in actual fact,” the loss of income as a result of the under-performance in 2017 will be $3B.
“What does the Minister announce? What menu of measures does the Minister announced in 2018 that would address the sub-optimal performance of the economy? Nothing, none. Nothing is there,” he said as he moved out to the “mid-term score card.”
According to Ali, the Finance Minister, Winston Jordan had said that Government was very satisfied with the country’s performance at midterm.
However, he questioned what there was to be satisfied about as he sought to direct the House to “factual analysis.”
He posited that since the Coalition Government took office, sugar has declined by $3.8B, forestry has declined by $4.2B, rice has declined by $740M, and bauxite has declined by $792M.
“…decline, decline, decline, decline and this Government can tell the people of this country that they are satisfied with their performance and that they are happy with the performance when every single sector, every one of the productive sectors has declined under their watch since they came to office,” he said.
Further, the Parliamentarian emphasised that the sectors are not only about numbers and revenue as they are also about people, their lives, their families, communities and societies.
“ For example, Mr speaker, these sectors that I mentioned employ more than 61,000 people directly. Mr Speaker, more than 244,276 Guyanese depend exclusively on these sectors for their livelihood, for their income , for their sustenance. They depend on these industries Mr Speaker. What does this budget say to them?”
According to the former Minister, the affected individuals have only been able to see “decline in their income”, and “displacement or removal from their jobs.”
“32.9% of our population is directly affected, directly affected as a result of the decline at this midterm point of this Government. What does the budget give to these people?” he reiterated while providing his own answer: “empty promises, false hope, no hope.”
Moreover, Ali noted that Budget 2018 lacks creativity, innovation and the thinking power that can stimulate, advance and create opportunities for these people.