A gath­er­ing of un­der­per­form­ers

Weekend Mirror - - EDITORIAL -

Dear Edi­tor,

In

spite of what the Min­is­ter said at his press con­fer­ence to re­view the coun­try’s 2017 Half Year Per­for­mance Re­port, he missed the big­gest take-away from the story that the econ­omy is try­ing to tell us all. The real risk to the econ­omy has in­creased greatly since May 2015, both on the do­mes­tic front and on the in­ter­na­tional front. This sit­u­a­tion de­mands fi­nan­cial lead­er­ship from Team Granger. But so far there is lit­tle to be found. This means that the nec­es­sary tar­geted at­ten­tion that the econ­omy needs has not been ap­plied at the right time to the right growth cen­tres since May 2015. There are con­se­quences: wide­spread pol­icy paral­y­sis over the last 26 months.

On page 50 of the Half Year Re­port, the Min­is­ter high­lighted the facts that the “risks to the achieve­ment of the over­all fis­cal tar­gets are skewed to the do­mes­tic side”. It has been his job over these last 26 months to come up with so­lu­tions. Such a role can­not be out­sourced to an­other com­mis­sion of in­quiry; there is only one Min­is­ter and one Pres­i­dent and so far after 26 months they have both failed the peo­ple on mul­ti­ple fronts.

By ex­ten­sion, this con­ta­gion has now in­fected the im­age of the en­tire Granger cabi­net as a gath­er­ing of un­der­per­form­ers. Their en­dorse­ment of Mr Jordan’s pack­age of in­ef­fec­tive pol­icy ac­tion has now taken Guyana off its tra­di­tional growth path with no plan on how to back­fill the eco­nomic vac­uum. The big-gest mis­cal­cu­la­tion from Team Granger is that this econ­omy can ad­vance with­out full govern­ment support to the six sis­ters. They failed on many fronts to un­der­stand how the Guyanese econ­omy grows. With­out the six sis­ters – sugar, rice, gold, baux­ite, tim­ber and seafood, there will be no ma­te­rial growth in the econ­omy, full stop!

The Min­is­ter can talk from now un­til the cows come home on the po­ten­tial of the ICT sec­tor, the oil and gas sec­tor, the trad­ing sec­tor and so on, but we all know those sec­tors can only add to the ex­port fig­ures when Go-IN­VEST wakes up, and it has been in a very deep sleep since May 2015. The out­come is there are very few green shoots of any se­ri­ous new fi­nan­cial in­flows in these sec­tors that can back­fill the fi­nan­cial hole left by the un­der­per­for­mance in the tra­di­tional sec­tors.

This is not ex­pected to change soon, so we must ex­pect con­sid­er­able eco­nomic hard­ship af­fect­ing the peo­ple over the next 2½ years.

There is enough ev­i­dence that over the last decade one of the sis­ters has been abused. But what is in­ter­est­ing is that with the change of govern­ment, rather than the abuse be­ing brought to an end, it ac­tu­ally ac­cel­er­ated. I speak di­rectly to the plun­der­ing of the sugar belt by the Granger regime to­day. Then im­me­di­ately upon his as­sump­tion of of­fice, Pres­i­dent Granger at­tempted to ren­der the rice in­dus­try his or­phan with his silly state­ment is­sued in Oc­to­ber 2015 that the af­fairs in the rice in­dus­try are “pri­vate ar­range­ments”. This state­ment found en­dorse­ment in the fact that there was lit­tle help for the or­di­nary farm­ers from the Granger regime. The end re­sult was a poor con­tri­bu­tion from the rice in­dus­try in 2016 that brought great harm to the econ­omy last year.

Luck­ily these same pri­vate farm­ers in their pri­vate ar­range­ments were able to dig deep into their re­serves in 2017 and planted a big­ger first crop. Their for­ti­tude helped ex­pand rice ex­ports by some US$30 mil­lion to com­pen­sate for the de­cline in the gold ex­ports in the first half of 2017. This pa­tri­otic act by it­self has saved Guyana from a cat­a­clysmic eco­nomic melt­down in 2017.

Yours faith­fully, Sase Singh

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