Over the past few years, the Guyanese economy revealed an economic illness that is tied to the state of the six sisters (rice, sugar, bauxite, gold, seafood, and forestry). There are tremendous external headwinds as the rest of the world pulls ahead leaving the Guyanese economy in a sort of no-man’s land. Real GDP growth continues to slow down and the evidence is there to prove this fact. It is the IMF who certified that in 2007 the GDP growth rate in Guyana was 7.1%. What is the growth rate in 2017, a decade later? I am advised from reputable sources in the Bureau of Statistics, it was 2.2% in 2017. Why are the media not pursuing this figure that is being deliberately hidden?
This 2017 growth rate is a far cry from the state of the economy a decade ago, and these realities cannot be wished away. Just ask the ordinary man in the street what is the state of his or her pocket today. The majority will respond with a comment such as “dwindling to the point of emptiness”.
The economy’s resilience that President Granger promised the people as Candidate Granger in 2015 never materialized because he made one major policy mistake. As President, he dropped the ball and allowed his ministers to abandon the productive sector (the six sisters) to the point that they are all malfunctioning today. Amidst global commodity price and financial market volatility, this regime failed to upscale the productive sectors to reflect a more valued profile. After three years and a world of promises from Mr Granger, we are still stuck with exporting raw gold, raw seafood, raw sugar, raw rice, raw timber, raw bauxite. Not even one inch was moved at climbing up the value chain in these industries in the last three years with a focus on strengthening the export base. The end result is a weakening balance sheet position as the nation continues to rapidly lose its net asset value. To add to that distressing news, the exchange rate is under pressure and the people face the reality of a rapidly increasing cost of living situation.
It is time for a more responsive set of macroeconomic policies from the Granger regime. It is time for them to stop chattering about this carrot on a donkey’s head called oil revenues and focus on the now. It is time for them to deliver on their manifesto promise. Yes, there will be much oil revenue but for whom? Certainly not the ordinary man and woman of Guyana, and the quicker the nation wakes up to this reality, the better for all.
In the final analysis, it is imperative that Team Granger de-clutter their brains and redouble their efforts at calibrating this economy in the near term to be more people-centric. The only way that can be achieved is by the Minister of Finance launching a menu of progressive macroeconomic policies that are designed to rebuild the productive sector and incentivize the required investments to drive a rapid expansion in aggregate demand. But they seem clueless as to how to do this. This is ABC stuff to the thinking class, so it beats me, why is this so difficult for Team Granger? And the story continues as Guyana withers under President Granger, who is more interested in parade and pageantry than the economic well-being of the people. He needs to understand what the role of a leader is.