Jagdeo can be cred­ited with fun­da­men­tal trans­for­ma­tive moves

Stabroek News Sunday - - WORLD NEWS - The open­ing lasts for 1 1/2 hours

Dear Ed­i­tor, It has be­come nec­es­sary to un­der­score the fact that a new trend seems to be de­vel­op­ing, whereby per­sons wish­ing to etch their names in the pub­lic psy­che latch onto a prom­i­nent in­di­vid­ual in so­ci­ety, which, more of­ten than not these days, is for­mer pres­i­dent and cur­rent Op­po­si­tion Leader Bhar­rat Jagdeo – an art that some could ar­gue has been per­fected by colum­nist, Fred­die Kis­soon. A re­cent it­er­a­tion of this has been ev­i­denced in a re­cent let­ter penned by Saieed I Khalil, head­lined ‘Jagdeo is no Lee Kwan Yew’ pub­lished in the September 19 edi­tion of the Stabroek News.

The let­ter writer at­tempts to dis­count Mr Jagdeo’s stew­ard­ship of Guyana’s econ­omy and credit our coun­try’s con­sis­tent eco­nomic progress un­der his ten­ure to favourable global con­di­tions. Stu­dents of eco­nomics at least should pos­sess the ba­sic un­der­stand­ing that global con­di­tions alone do not trans­late to eco­nomic progress, even when those global con­di­tions are favourable, which is why our lead­ers are tasked with ad­vanc­ing pol­icy di­rec­tion to en­able fu­ture and sus­tain­able growth. Guyanese did not en­joy over a decade of eco­nomic progress un­der Mr Jagdeo and the for­mer PPP/C ad­min­is­tra­tion be­cause of favourable global con­di­tions; they did so be­cause of the care­ful plan­ning on the part of Mr Jagdeo and the PPP/C. One only has to look at the let­ter writer’s own ar­gu­ments to un­der­stand this.

Mr Khalil con­tends that, “Oil prices are now lower than they have been in more than a decade…the US econ­omy is in the mid­dle of an eight year­long up­swing and stocks are 235% higher than they were in 2009.” Yet, what is our cur­rent eco­nomic po­si­tion? Where are the for­eign di­rect in­vest­ments? Where are the jobs? Where is wealth be­ing cre­ated for av­er­age Guyanese? What is the po­si­tion of our for­eign ex­change? These are only a few of the many crit­i­cisms voiced about the cur­rent APNU+AFC coali­tion gov­ern­ment’s man­age­ment of the lo­cal econ­omy.

The re­al­ity is that de­spite the favourable global con­di­tions cited by Mr Khalil, Guyana is not do­ing well due to the lack of a co­her­ent eco­nomic pol­icy from the cur­rent gov­ern­ment – a vastly dif­fer­ent state of af­fairs com­pared to the poli­cies put in place by Mr Jagdeo and the for­mer PPP/C gov­ern­ment. The let­ter writer also fails to recog­nise that there has to be a pro­found anal­y­sis of sev­eral in­ter-re­lated is­sues, in­clud­ing sev­eral ma­jor trans­for­ma­tional projects, to im­prove the gen­eral un­der­stand­ing of the eco­nomic sit­u­a­tion at that time – as op­posed to the sim­plis­tic ex­pres­sion Mr Khalil of­fers.

What Mr Khalil does is ‘name drops’ dis­parate and un­re­lated eco­nomic con­cepts, in­clud­ing men­tion of the global fi­nan­cial cri­sis, in an at­tempt to lend depth to his sup­posed anal­y­sis. He also men­tions the Eco­nomic Re­cov­ery Pro­gramme (ERP), but it must be noted that no anal­y­sis of the ERP is of­fered, nor is there an ac­knowl­edg­ment of the fact that the ERP, by its very na­ture, ex­poses the sit­u­a­tion that the for­mer PPP/C gov­ern­ment took over in 1992. Mr Khalil states only that “the Eco­nomic Re­cov­ery Pro­gramme (ERP), a pack­age of re­form mea­sures over­seen by the late Pres­i­dent Des­mond Hoyte to ease the econ­omy away from decades of de­bil­i­tat­ing co­op­er­a­tive so­cial­ism and to­wards a mar­ket ori­ented econ­omy, was be­gin­ning to pay div­i­dends”. Guyana went through an ERP be­cause the coun­try was bank­rupt – a fact ac­knowl­edged by then Fi­nance Min­is­ter, Carl Greenidge.

Guyana hav­ing to go through an ERP sets the start­ing point of what the then PPP/C gov­ern­ment in­her­ited from the Peo­ple’s Na­tional Con­gress (PNC).

Mr Khalil goes on to say that Guyana re­ceived a “roughly US$1 bil­lion aid pack­age from the Euro­pean Union granted in com­pen­sa­tion for the im­pend­ing 36 per cent cut

in the pref­er­en­tial price for Guyana sugar head­ing to the bloc.” The re­al­ity is that Guyana only re­ceived US$138M – nine times less than what Mr Khalil claims.

In­ter­est­ingly, this stu­dent of eco­nomics could not dif­fer­en­ti­ate be­tween US$1B and US$138M.

That said, there are fun­da­men­tal trans­for­ma­tive moves that can be di­rectly cred­ited to Mr Jagdeo and the for­mer PPP/C ad­min­is­tra­tion in­clud­ing the facts that: 1. A bank­rupt coun­try was trans­formed to a coun­try that was the most vi­able in the Caribbean. If Mr Khalil was an­a­lyz­ing a trend he would have recog­nised this fact. 2. All the macro-eco­nomic fun­da­men­tals ad­vanced by the PNC had been trans­formed from un­sus­tain­able to ones that are highly con­ducive to growth and de­vel­op­ment. 3. The big­gest sin­gle con­straint to growth was debt, which was sub­stan­tially re­duced. 4. Guyana was moved beyond sta­bi­liza­tion to a growth era. 5. Growth ar­eas were iden­ti­fied to cre­ate the wealth for the fu­ture. Oil and gas was one of those. Also, in pur­suit of the said growth ar­eas, the Low Car­bon De­vel­op­ment Strat­egy was one of the most trans­for­ma­tive and pro­gres­sive in the world, which led to Guyana be­ing recog­nised glob­ally. 6. Guyana was lead­ing in Caricom with an ini­tia­tive that had Jagdeo’s name on it ‒ an ini­tia­tive rel­a­tive to food se­cu­rity.

Mr Jagdeo was cho­sen by Dr Cheddi Ja­gan to head the com­mit­tee to draft the Na­tional De­vel­op­ment Strat­egy. In his ten­ure, he ad­vanced the NDS, the Poverty Re­duc­tion Strat­egy and the Low Car­bon De­vel­op­ment Strat­egy. He was se­lected as one of the young global lead­ers by the World Eco­nomic Fo­rum in 2005 and served as the Vice Chair of the ACP Em­i­nent Per­sons Group. He was also ap­pointed by the UN Sec­re­tary Gen­eral to the High-Level Ad­vi­sory

Group on Mo­bi­liz­ing Cli­mate Change Re­sources. He was se­lected by the Sum­mit of Heads of State held in Congo in 2011 as the Rov­ing Am­bas­sador for the Three For­est Basins. He was named as IUCN High Level En­voy for Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment in For­est Coun­tries and Pa­tron of Na­ture in 2012. He was the First Pres­i­dent of the Green Growth In­sti­tute Assem­bly (20122014), a newly formed in­ter­na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tion based in Korea.

Time Mag­a­zine had named Pres­i­dent Jagdeo a 2008 ‘Hero of the En­vi­ron­ment’. The United Na­tions, in 2010, de­clared Pres­i­dent Jagdeo, as one of its ‘Cham­pi­ons of the Earth Awardees’. As re­cently as 2016, he was cho­sen as the United Na­tions (UN) Food and Agri­cul­ture Or­gan­i­sa­tion (FAO) Spe­cial Am­bas­sador on Forests. All con­sid­ered, Mr Jagdeo need not re­spond to a poorly con­structed at­tempt to dis­credit his ac­com­plish­ments, as well as those of the for­mer PPP/C ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Yours faith­fully, Adrian Ana­mayah, MP At­tor­ney-at-Law

Sun Mon Sept 24, 2017 06:25 - 07:55 hrs Sept 25, 2017 06:55 - 08:25 hrs

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