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Reply to "Economy grew by 4.7% last year"

Guyana’s economy grew by 4.7% last year surpassing the 4.4% projection, Minister of Finance Winston Jordan yesterday announced.

“We were true to our diversifying this economy. I am happy to report that last year, we recorded a 4.7% growth in the economy; the highest since 2014,” Jordan said at a turning of the sod event for two hotels  at Ogle, East Coast Demerara (ECD).

Further, he added, “The 4.7 percent growth we had last year was in spite of the challenges we had in sugar and bauxite. You know what pulled us through? Among them were rice, construction and tourism. If that doesn’t speak to the economy weaning itself off of its traditional products and veering into a new direction, I don’t know what else will be a lead.”

Jordan said that Guyana’s “unique” makeup with its vast natural resources offers much opportunity and potential for diversification plans to work and it is what he has been doing.

 “So we have been building the economy while we are attempting to diversify and correct it and we have tried to put in place a regime that will be attractive enough to encourage and attract both local and foreign investors…we are in that unique position that we can blend with services,” he said.

The Minister of Finance said that the economy’s growth was personally significant for him because heading a ministry where sometimes negative news dominates the strides his ministry has been making leaves him questioning if it will impact foreign investors’ views. He said he believes that “too much” negative news is given prominence in the press by “too few persons who seem to have tremendous access to the traditional and non-traditional press.”

To the investors who have committed to financially partnering with this country, Jordan expressed thanks saying that it was only a percentage of what is to be seen in the future.

 “I am supremely happy that we are attracting investors in spite of the conditions that exist today. Investors like political stability, and in the past investors would have shied away from sod turning 10 days before an election. They would come gaff and thing and gone and investors would have been running out of Guyana. The exchange rate would have started dancing. But as you look around, all of those features, ten days before the elections, are not there,” he added.

Last year’s mid-year report  had said that the outcome of the December 21, 2018  no-confidence vote in the National Assembly could result in further downward revision of the originally envisaged 4.6% growth projection for 2019.

It was why the projection had been changed to 4.4% and which Jordan had disclosed that in the wake of the prevailing political climate, a further downward adjustment could have been anticipated.

However, mindful of the combative political climate that will almost certainly persist through to general elections, the 2019 Mid-Year report went to some trouble to make the point that the performance outcomes  under the current political administration had reflected consecutive years of economic growth. “Between 2015 and 2019, every year, this economy grew,” Jordan had told the media.

He had said that Guyana’s economy grew by 4% in the first six months of 2019. According to the report, growth figures for the respective years were 3.2% (2015), 3.4% (2016), 2.1% (2017) and 4.1% (2018).

And seemingly not unmindful of an anticipated combative elections campaign likely to be directed on the opposition side by former president Bharrat Jagdeo, Jordan had  compared government’s 2015 to 2018 figures with those of 2001 to 2005, a period during which Jagdeo held office.  He stated that the country’s economy grew 1.9% in 2001, 1.1% in 2002, -0.6% in 2003; 1.6% in 2004 and -5.5% in 2005.

Much of the credit for the economy’s growth performance during the first half of the year was given to the private sector, particularly in the area of gold production, which has been spearheading the country’s export earnings; rice, which has gradually been fighting back from exacting market challenges; and forestry, despite difficulties associated chiefly with transporting logs from far-flung interior locations over roads that are frequently impassable on account of a combination of weather-related challenges and less than reliable road repairs and maintenance regimes. The country’s manufacturing, construction, wholesale and retail trade and financial and insurance services are also credited in the half year report with contributing to growth.

Yesterday, he echoed much of what he had said last year as he boasted of a government that will continue to press to ensure that the growth trajectory continues. “Our manifesto speaks to continuing improve the environment …” he said.