The Guyanese economy has now lost its ability to grow at 5%. How did this happen over the last 3½ years (2014-mid 2017)? The last time Guyana grew above 5% was in the year 2013 (5.2%).
If we retrace our steps to the period 1991-2013 (starting with Hoyte’s time), we will see that during this period, Guyana experienced measurable progress in poverty reduction, strong job creation and real income growth for the average resident. But all of this changed in 2014 under Mr Ramotar and has gotten worst since the arrival of Mr Granger. Is this 5% growth irretrievably lost? Does this mean that the good life is a myth once President Granger is in power?
Between 1991 to 2013, GDP per capita expanded 10 times over. The wealth of the average Guyanese resident expanded 10 times in size over those 22 years. The facts are there to prove that every President from Hoyte to Jagdeo did a phenomenal job at expanding the economy. Ramotar, fortunately, benefited from the Jagdeo steam but that was a strategy, and by 2014 it had evaporated.
In my book, it all comes down to leadership. But to expose where President Granger is taking the nation, the IMF in its latest staff paper has projected that the growth forecast for the period 2017 to 2019 will be a measly average of 3.5%. We can safely say that the Guyanese economy ran into its reserve tank under Mr Ramotar, but today under Mr Granger all the gas has evaporated.
I spoke to a Guyanese born Floridian economist who told me that in conversations he had with Candidate Granger before May 2015, he found him to be very financially uninspired. Well, I do not have to talk to Mr Granger to find that out; one just has to look at the performance of the real sectors under his leadership and the economy in general and you can quickly conclude that as the Head of State he is critically clueless on his responsibilities to the people.
While the Granger apologists like to claim that they are bringing an end to the drug economy, the actual facts proved that since he came to power, labour-productivity growth has plummeted to its lowest point since the dark PNC days of 1983-84 under Burnham. But to add salt to the people’s wounds, there are very few incentivisation measures being rolled out to feed the growth machine ‒ the private sector.
If you want to drive new investments you have to do something about the corporation tax rates. If you want to drive labour productivity, you have to save jobs (not send home 10,000 sugar workers) and leave more money in the workers’ pockets. If you want to motivate a nation, put them in their own homes. Irfaan Ali placed six times as many Guyanese from all races in their own homes compared to this administration. Can we see why this 5% has disappeared under President Granger?
If we allow this Granger Team to destroy this natural 5% growth rate, then a lot that we have enjoyed over those 22 years will be destroyed. This current economic implosion happening in Guyana does not hold any prisoners; all will be consumed, even if you have a PNC card.