Adversity can be a great motivator and the period of economic adversity under the Bharrat Jagdeo /Janet Jagan rulership clearly brought out the worst of Guyana economically, politically and socially. They can speak as much untruth as they want on the PPP platform, but nothing will wash away the facts. The facts revealed that for several years under the Hoyte /Cheddi Jagan rulership, Guyana enjoyed one of the fastest growth rates in the Western Hemisphere and among its peers in the Low Income countries. However, with the arrival of Janet Jagan and her creation, Bharrat Jagdeo, economic activity dramatically slowed to an average of 1.6% (between 1998 –2010), as compared to the Hoyte/Cheddi era (1991-1997) when average economic growth was 7.1%.
In these times of great adversity, we have found ourselves on the verge of an Alliance For Change (AFC) Government which has a clear Action Plan to return Guyana to growth rates of 7-8% within 3 years as so clearly articulated by Dr Tarron Khemraj at the Pegasus. At the macro-economic level, restoring growth levels of 7-8% will require an AFC Government taking the hard steps to address the fundamentals that the Ramotar cabal so miserably failed at, including fostering greater investment and savings, speeding-up an orderly process of replacing State investment with private investment, increasing labour participation rates (the importance of our 20% salary increase), and reducing structural fiscal deficits before the end of the 5 year term.
The AFC Government plans to incentivize businesses to use private equity to support critical new infrastructure investment such as the Linden to Lethem Road and the Deep Water Harbour. The goal of the AFC is to reignite a virtuous cycle of value-added growth, increased productivity, and accelerated job creation.
The division of labour is clear: if policy makers remove barriers that act as a disincentive to invest, as well as create the conditions in which business can thrive, the private sector will provide the skills and capital to deliver the innovation the country needs. Areas of opportunity we in the AFC see include: Bring private capital to public works. Most of our medium term infrastructure works on page 8 of our Action Plan will be farmed out to our local private sector and the international private sector especially companies from the ABC (America, Britain and Canada) and BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) countries to take over these projects to seismically transform the infrastructure of the nation, offering them as a compensation for the risks taken, a competitive return on their capital.
Strengthen our IT platform – We shall sell the Government IT fiber optic cable from Brazil to the highest bidder. This action will empower Digicel, GT&T and any other telecommunication giants to compete on a level playing field to expand IT services using the latest technology. This strategy will be used to drive performance to facilitate the innovation to meet the global demand for these services that will be provided by Guyanese at a fee. There is a tremendous amount of jobs to be created and income to be made for the nation from this sector and unfortunately the Jagdeo regime was clueless at the highest levels in tapping this sector fast enough.
This has manifested itself in them shelving the required Telecommuni-cation Reform Laws needed to drive this vision leading to much economic growth. Well the AFC will unleash that potential.
Meet the resource-productivity imperative. As BRICS countries get wealthier, their middle class grows, demanding more of everything.
Right now China has a demand for 200 million new pork bellies. If Guyana can produce just 1 million of that demand in Region 10, process and package it, can you imagine how much wealth we can create for the citizens of Region 10? Resource productivity—that is, increasing output for every unit of resource input—is a pre-requisite for success. Guyana has to stop producing raw sugar, paddy and bauxite and graduate to refined sugar, ethanol, rice products like rice cakes, rice cereal and alumina to truly enhance our wealth potential multiple fold. All of these plans are clearly outlined in the AFC Action Plan.
Close the skills gap – Guyana has to stop promoting students who fail their exams like what the PPP is doing today and use an alternative system to unleash the potential of these children. Guyana has to produce university graduates that the market needs by using incentives like full scholarships in fields like engineering, agriculture and the sciences to propel the nation into a value added economy.
It is not just the young that need to be trained appropriately, we will need to retrain some of the older workers in new skills like IT skills to migrate to the fields where there are many jobs.
Ultimately, the only dependable way to encourage students to develop skills in these growth areas is for companies to make these careers more attractive (by raising starting salaries, for example).
Build public–private partnerships – Governments need their own productivity revolution and that is why we in the AFC will be making the first move by raising public sector salaries by 20% to incentivize the State workers to make the second move in raising their productivity.