Ashni Singh slams Jordan for inflating debt figure

Ashni Singh slams Jordan for inflating debt figure

Former Finance Minister, Dr Ashni Singh

Former Finance Minister, Dr Ashni Singh

…demands proof or retraction

 

Former Finance Minister, Dr Ashni Singh said that figures released on Guyana’s domestic and external debts are grossly exaggerated and slammed new Finance Minister, Winston Jordan for allegedly misleading the country. He also called on the minister retract the statement and also apologise to the nation.

In a letter to the editor of this newspaper (see page 4) Dr Singh said Appendix VI to the national Budget Speech for 2014 reported that Guyana’s external debt stock stood at US$1.247 billion at the end of December 2013, and provided a detailed disaggregation by creditor. Secondly, he said Appendix F1 to the Mid-Year Report for 2014 reported that the external debt stock stood at US$1.227 billion at the end of June 2014, and provided a similar level of disaggregation. Thirdly, Table 7-III of the Statistical Annexe to the Bank of Guyana Annual Report for 2014 reported that Guyana’s stock of external public debt amounted to US$1.217 billion at the end of December 2014, disaggregated by creditor type.

“All three of the aforementioned documents have been freely available in the public domain since their respective issuance, including on the Ministry of Finance and Bank of Guyana websites, where they could still be sourced when I last checked earlier today.”

Dr Singh Singh has called on the Minister to make publicly available disaggregated details on the US$1.6 billion that he reported to the National Assembly last Friday as Guyana’s external debt stock. “Alternatively, he might wish to consider issuing an appropriate correction, including in the National Assembly where his statement was originally made. He might also wish to consider examining more closely the accuracy of other aspects of what he is reported to have said in the same article and address them similarly,” Dr Singh advocated.

Finance Minister, Winston Jordan

Finance Minister, Winston Jordan

Speaking in the National Assembly on Friday Minister Jordan disclosed that as it now stands, Guyana was highly indebted, even carrying a deficit or more than $60 billion. “Guyana’s external debt is US$1.6 billion, and we were recipients of generous debt write-offs from both bilateral and multilateral agents that have put us in a category where we have to pay careful attention to what we borrow, how we borrow, and what we borrow for,” Jordan intoned.

Continuing, Jordan told the House that there was a large magnitude of work which must be done, including the crafting of a National Economic Policy, achieving stable macro economic growth and ensuring infrastructural growth. Further, he added that the National Procurement and Tender Board administration will soon see a major shake-up since it was pertinent to have a professional, competent and unbiased Board in place. “We are going to be reforming the procurement system. OF course, we will start where we have some control and that is the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board. A new board will be in place by next week and some of the practices reviewed.” Guyanese can also expect to see gender budgeting and budgetary allocations for the poor and needy in the upcoming budgets and a major overhaul and centralisation of the Guyana National Bureau of Statistics (GNBS) so as to ensure that proper surveys and the National Census are produced to assist the Government in policymaking.

Meanwhile, in a separate statement the PPP/C said in one of the very first interviews Jordan gave after being appointed Minister he was at pains to emphasise that he is not a politician but instead that he is a professional. “Whether he saw himself in that way or not, the fact is that he has within one month metamorphosed not only into a politician but a politician of the worst kind, one that is intent on distorting and misrepresenting facts for narrow political interest. The party said that the US$1.6B debt announced by Jordan is nothing but an untruth. “Mr. Jordan knows fully well that Guyana’s external debt stock stands closer to US$1.2 billion and that our domestic debt has in fact been declining. Indeed, page 28 of the Bank of Guyana annual report for 2014 which has been publicly available for some time now has this to say on Guyana’s external debt: “the stock of outstanding public and publicly guaranteed external debt fell by 2.3 percent to US$1,217 million (at the end of 2014) from US$1,246 million in 2013″. It furthermore had this to say on Guyana’s domestic debt on page 27: “The outstanding stock of government domestic bonded debt, which consisted of treasury bills, bonds, debentures and the CARICOM loan, decreased by 20.6 percent to G$78,438 million.”

According to the PPP/C in exactly the same manner, Jordan is fully aware that the balance on the consolidated fund is not overdrawn by $60 billion and, more importantly, that for macroeconomic purposes one has to examine the overall net cash balance of the Government. “Indeed, it is noted that elsewhere he has been trying to deny that Guyana recorded the robust growth that we did as a nation over the past nine years. This is nothing less than another blatant attempt to rewrite Guyana’s economic history. The fact of the matter is that Guyana’s achieved strong economic growth over the past nine years, as evidenced not just by expansion in real GDP, but also by growth in FDI, growth in private sector credit, growth in deposits in the banking system and assets of the commercial banks, growth in housing stock, establishment of new businesses and expansion of existing businesses, etc. These are objectively verifiable facts that Jordan cannot deny no matter what his political agenda might be. If he wishes to be taken seriously as a professional, then Mr. Jordan needs to come clean and apologise to the Guyanese nation immediately for attempting to mislead them.”

Original Post
Originally Posted by Zed:

I am looking forward to Jordan's response. Let him counter the veracity of tthe figures that were provided and the source.

Are they talking the same period?  PPP quoting December 2014 and most likely Jordon talking about December 2015 or a later quarter.

Meanwhile, in a separate statement the PPP/C said in one of the very first interviews Jordan gave after being appointed Minister he was at pains to emphasise that he is not a politician but instead that he is a professional. “Whether he saw himself in that way or not, the fact is that he has within one month metamorphosed not only into a politician but a politician of the worst kind, one that is intent on distorting and misrepresenting facts for narrow political interest.

The party said that the US$1.6B debt announced by Jordan is nothing but an untruth. “Mr. Jordan knows fully well that Guyana’s external debt stock stands closer to US$1.2 billion and that our domestic debt has in fact been declining.”

Perhaps, he will continue along that line, or come clean and clear on the issues.

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