I refer to an article in the Mirror (April 14-15) by Ralph Ramkarran captioned ‘Uncontrolled Money Supply is Inflationary and Harmful.‘ I could not find the empirical evidence to support his arguments, thus he has rendered his words mere hearsay. He claimed the following:
Calls by the opposition for relief to the workers and pensioners will have negative impacts on the beneficiaries.
There was a spike in inflation in the early 2000s after the large wage increases awarded by the Armstrong Commission.
Source: IMF & 2012
If one is to look carefully at the facts, one would be advised that the highest rate of inflation during the period of government of Mr Jagdeo from 1999-2011 occurred in the years 2007 and 2008, not 1999 and 2000 when the Armstrong Commission instructed that 31.6% and 26.6% be paid out as wage increases.
In the year 2000, when the workers secured wage increases of 26.6%, the inflation rate was 6.1% and we must factor in that the wage increases in the previous year were 31.6%. If one is to compare this to the years 2005-08, the average inflation rate was 8.5% when the average wage increase was 6.5%.
So who is Mr Ramkarran trying to fool with this political pomposity?
What Mr Ramkarran is failing to tell the Guyanese public is that his party has committed the taxpayers to some $9 billion on the Fibre Optic Cable Project, money that could have been better spent by the private sector. The AFC remains committed to privatizing this project in compliance with our philosophy that the private sector is the engine of growth and job creation.
What Mr Ramkarran is failing to tell the Guyanese public is that if the Public Procurement Commission was established and put it into the hands of honest people like Mr Anand Goolsarran, then over a period of time some $20 billion per year according to a World Bank study can be saved by capping the financial leakages in the Treasury. A clear example of this financial waste includes a company that secured a single source pharmaceutical contract for close to $1 billion a year with no guarantee to the people on both the quality and quantity. Another example is the loss of some $600 million on the Amaila Falls Road, $40 billion on the Skeldon Factory and the list can go on and on.
What Mr Ramkarran fails to tell the Guyanese public was that the old Skeldon factory took 12-13 tonnes of cane to produce 1 tonne of sugar, but his government spent $40 billion on a so-called state-of-the-art factory and according to the PPP, the most modern sugar factory in the Caribbean but when it was completed it consumed 20 tonnes of cane to produce 1 tonne of sugar. If this decline in efficiency by some 53% after spending $40 billion is not an uneconomical spend then what is?
The savings from unnecessary public projects and from cutting the corruption on the special contracts to friends of the PPP would have been properly applied by the AFC; to fund all the financial measures in the party’s Action Plan.
Let me assure Mr Ramkarran and others of his mindset that the campaign is over and in the interest of compromise and delivering the goods to the people asap, the AFC has modified its expectations to recognize that to best help the people, we have to work with both APNU and the PPP to move Guyana forward. Thus, as Cathy Hughes said, we are not in the opposition for the sake of opposing; we‘ve got better things to do with our time. Thus if Mr Ramkarran had made the effort to understand the statements from the AFC since the elections he would have recognized that firstly, we are committed to a double digit wages increase for this budget as a compromise v our campaign commitment of 20%. The last time I checked, double digit can define any number from 10% to 20% and beyond. Take your pick Mr Ramkarran, we could not have been more reasonable. Secondly, we are committed to a publication of the pensions’ register to weed out the phantom pensioners, some of whom live overseas or are now dead. In the same breath, we are committed to a $10,000 per month pension for those bona-fide pensioners who live in Guyana as a compromise v our campaign promise of $15,000 per month. At the same time we will support the move by APNU to revise the presidential pension package.
If Mr Ramkarran took the time to be open minded on the AFC, he would have recognized we are ready to negotiate and compromise from our Action Plan position to get the goodies to the working class asap.