Guyana stagnates on key global competitiveness pillars

-World Economic Forum report
Guyana has moved up slightly on the Global Competi-tiveness Index (GCI) 2008-2009 list, coming in at 115 out of 134 countries in the annual report put out by the World Economic Forum but has stagnated in key areas.

Guyana’s GCI listing for 2007-2008 was 126 out of 131 countries and for 2006-2007 it was listed at 113 out of 122 countries.

The GCI listing is based on individual countries’ performance which is measured using 12 pillars as well as looking at the impact on business of issues such as crime, corruption, taxation, bureaucracy, inflation and stability among others.

The 12 pillars on which the index is built are institutions, infrastructure, macroeconomic stability, health and primary education, higher education and training, goods market efficiency, labour market efficiency, financial market sophistication, technological readiness, market size, business sophistication and innovation.

GCI Guyana’s worst score –134 which is at the bottom of the list – was occasioned by its high brain drain under the seventh pillar which examines labour market efficiency.  Its score was also above the halfway mark on several other listings.

Under institutions, the country scored poorly on its attention to property rights 104/134; intellectual property protection 130; diversion of public funds 107; judicial independence (lack of) 108; favouritism in decisions of government officials 119; efficiency of legal framework 121; reliability of police service (lack of ) 119; organized crime 111; and the costs to business of crime and terrorism 128 and 120 respectively. There were nine other areas in which the country was ranked under this first pillar including ethical behaviour of firms, public trust of politicians and wastefulness of government spending. In each area, save one burden of government regulation (53) Guyana was ranked above 67.

Under infrastructure, overall, the country ranked at 87. A look at the breakdown saw quality of roads at 72/134; ports 105; air transport 115; electricity supply 114; and telephone lines 77.

With regard to macroeconomic stability, even with a competitive advantage of a national savings rate of 49, Guyana fell down with its government deficit at 132 (110.0% of GDP) and inflation at 125 (12.2%).

Health and primary education had two robust competitive advantages – education expenditure was recorded at 3/134 (8.2% of gross national income) and primary enrolment of 31/134 (97.0%). However, high incidence of malaria, tuberculosis, HIV and infant mortality provided an overall bleak outlook under this pillar. A similar situation prevailed as regards higher education and training with secondary enrolment at a high of 104.6 placing Guyana’s listing at 15/134. However, low tertiary enrolment and less than average quality of the educational system particularly Mathematics and Science, internet access in schools and poor availability of research and training systems drove up the competitive disadvantage.

Low non-wage labour costs along with some amount of elasticity in employment and hiring and firing practices boosted the seventh pillar, labour market efficiency somewhat. How-ever, the brain drain, poor labour/employer relations and gender inequality in the labour force brought it down.

The other six pillars used to measure the country’s global competitiveness followed a similar pattern with the scores under technological readiness defining it as one of the areas that need particular attention.

The 2008-2009 Global Competitiveness Report is a collaboration of the Geneva, Switzerland based World Economic Forum and Harvard University. They partnered with the Institute of Development Studies, University of Guyana.

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