In my previous letter on what Minister of Finance Winston Jordan can learn from African leaders like President Kagame, I outlined some positive developments on that continent. So what is Team Granger doing wrong?
1. There is a failure to stimulate local and foreign direct investments. GO-Invest is a dead-duck agency with no power to get investment deals done swiftly and properly, in addition to which their boss Minister Dominic Gaskin is clearly out of his depth on how to close the real deals. He lacks confidence in the big arena. It makes better sense to bring this entire portfolio under Mr Harmon who seems to be the real decision-maker in the government.
2. The Granger regime does not have a plan on how to create jobs. While it is the responsibility of the private sector to invest and create the jobs, it is the responsibility of the government to create the environment to stimulate the private sector to invest. This is not being done.
3. The Granger regime is totally disconnected from the youths. Youth unemployment is twice the national unemployment rate according to the Labour Force Survey of March 2018. My good friend Dr Euclid Rose told me that according to his research he found that only about 11% of the public servants have a university degree in Guyana. In Rwanda, 79% of their public servants have a university degree. Clearly the education system in Guyana is broken and we are not creating the kind of skill sets needed for the future. But worst yet, because of the Granger administration, 8 out of 10 of the brightest and the best continue to leave every day.
4. Under-employment is the Achilles heel of Guyana. While the entire Granger cabinet gallivants all over the globe to useless events (Mr Granger went to Switzerland to a mercury conference, for example), some 49,000 youths are sitting on the culvert tops either unemployed or under-employed. This situation needs urgent attention.
5. The quality of growth in Guyana is pathetic. Mr Granger while on the Berbice River campaigning in 2015 said that he was tired of seeing all these barges of raw bauxite and raw logs floating down the river to be exported, and it is his agenda to move up the value chain. But some three years later, laziness took a front seat at State House because he has done very little to change the national economic structure. This is what one can call pitiful leadership.
6. The youths are in the wrong jobs today. In Guyana, we are moving people from low productivity agriculture jobs to low productivity commerce jobs. Does it make sense for a youthful cane cutter in his 20s to lose his job and then have to go and work in Rose Hall as a labourer in a store?
7. Mr Granger might not want to acknowledge it but because of these catastrophic growth rates under his watch and the misallocations of the national budget, inequality has increased since 2015 between the haves and the have-nots.
8. As a nation, we have not invested enough in renewable technology in the electricity sector. Now today they are set to spend US$110 million on gas-guzzling generators in Mr Granger’s so-called Green State economy. Plus the price of fossil fuels is climbing. Plain and absolute policy hypocrisy and insanity. The Amaila Falls Hydro Project can be a weapon of human development but for political reasons, Team Granger has chosen to jettison this deal. This decision to destroy the hydro project will hurt Guyana badly.
9. Our manufacturing and value-added sectors are under a clear and present danger. Because of the astronomical prices in the electricity sector, we are not creating enough well-paying value-added jobs. Yet the Minister of Finance has the audacity to complain about the structure of the economy when he is one of the principal agents who has the power to take action but did nothing over the last 3 years. These people are collecting their pay for work not done.
10. Lastly but most importantly, since the arrival of Mr Granger, poor governance has increased. There is every appearance that jobs in Guyana as heads of department go in the first instance to ex-GDF personnel.
So there we have it.