Minister of Finance Dr Ashni Singh yesterday reported that the economy grew by 3.9 percent in the first half of 2013 but with sugar contracting by 32.5 percent, the projected growth for the entire year has been revised downward from 5.3 percent to 4.8 percent.
Speaking at a press conference held at 9 last night, the minister said that sugar’s dismal performance has been responsible for the more modest growth in the economy. He said, however, that sugar notwithstanding the economy remained robust because of its diversified nature.
The minister said that the non-sugar economy grew by 6 percent for the first half of the year. It is projected that the non-sugar economy will grow by 5.8 percent for the year 2013, he added. Singh announced that sugar production for the first half of the year was 48,038 tonnes, a contraction of 32.5 percent.
Rice production, Singh noted, expanded by 25.1 percent to 263,228 tonnes and export earnings amounted to US$83.3 million.
He said that gold declarations increased by 26.8 percent to 234,498 ounces and export earnings amounted to US$300.8 million, an increase of 12.2 percent over the corresponding period in 2012.
The construction sector expanded by 6.6 percent, reflecting strong public sector activity combined with private housing construction and private sector construction activities.
He said that he financial and insurance service sector grew by 9.1 percent.
He announced that inflation was contained to 0.2 percent in the first half of 2013 while private sector credit expanded by 4.8 percent to $169.4 billion, with significant growth of 15.1 percent in the manufacturing sector, 15 percent in construction and engineering sector, 7.5 percent in mining and 7.4 percent in real estate mortgages.
In presenting sector highlights, the minister said that in the education sector, $11.1 billion of the budgeted $28.7 billion was spent in the first half of this year. He said that $308.8 million was expended on infrastructural investments; school feeding programme which benefited over 65,000 children and the provision of over 155,000 school uniform vouchers which were distributed to the coastal and Upper Mazaruni area.
In health, the minister said that $5.4 billion was spent so far for the year. He said that $78.3 million was spent on health infrastructure.
In the area of housing, the minister said that $1.1 billion was spent on the housing sector for the first half of the year. He said that approximately $649.6 million was spent on the development of 2,254 new house lots under the 2013 Housing Programme.
Singh reported that in the water sector, $455.5 million was spent in the first half of the year. In sanitation, $238.6 million was disbursed during the first half of 2013. In agriculture, some $443.1 million was spent in the first half of the year.
For drainage and irrigation, Singh said that $1.7 billion was spent.
In the area of infrastructure, government in the first half of 2012 spent $2.8 billion with $2.5 billion being spent on roads and $306.2 million being spent on bridges. Minister Singh said that$11.9 million was spent for the maintenance of the country’s 43 airstrips in Regions 1, 2, 7, 8, and 9. He said that $306.9 million was spent for the strengthening of sea and river defences in critical areas in Regions 2 to 7.
The minister said that for electricity, some $1.7 billion was spent in the first six months of the year. He said that in IT, government spent $479.9 million at mid-year towards the commencement of works on 25 LTE sites in areas including Lusignan, Enmore, Cane Grove, Vigilance, Melanie, Wales, Helena, Aurora, Suddie and New Amsterdam.