It is with great trepidation I greet the news of a nine hundred million USD loan and grants being granted to the Government of Guyana. I do realize countries need to borrow to finance various aspects of development from time to time, however the nebulous reasons given for procurement “economic infrastructure, rural development, human development and trade and competitiveness” do not merit such a level of indebtedness for future generations.
Guyana is a member state of Caricom which has a plethora of experts dedicated to establishing our “trade and competitiveness”. To borrow money for high priced consultants to re-word Caricom documents seems foolhardy; this amount of money represents three years of projected oil revenue at today’s market prices, more if the price should drop when production actually begins. For such a sum there should be specific projects identified with clear benefits to our nation. A large hydro-electric dam would cost less and provide lasting benefit for generations, making us competitive in the manufacturing sector, for example.
The best analogy for this loan I can think of is the adults in a family securing ‘Jamzone’ loans at the expense of their children’s future well-being. While we have all been barking at ExxonMobil for a miserly Production Sharing Agreement contract, our administration has been planning a ‘bingee’ on our new creditworthiness. Is this what we want for our future: money spent foolishly on consultants and Commissions of Inquiry? (As an aside, unless Nigel Hughes can produce a witness that was on a treetop, what value are we getting for our money in this Lindo Creek Massacre Inquiry?)
Brigadier David Arthur Granger promised us a Sovereign Wealth Fund to protect oil revenues from political excess. This ‘Jamzone Loan’ has already utilized the first three years’ production, so can we expect to start saving from the 2024 production or do we continue on this path and re-elect Mr Jagdeo in 2040 to make the rounds asking for debt forgiveness again?
I leave you with a quote from a man who is associated with Guyana, Sir Walter Ralegh: “Never spend anything before thou have it; for borrowing is the canker and death of every man’s estate.”