Nov 17, 2008 News
PNCR calls for economic stimulus package
The People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR), during its most recent press conference, has called on the Government, in light of the current global financial crisis, to implement an economic stimulus package that would cushion the effects of what some refer to as the financial meltdown.
This is according to PNCR member of Parliament Mervyn Williams, who noted that remittances to Guyana have been as high as US$424M, or 42 per cent of the GDP (Gross Domestic Product).
“With rising unemployment in the USA, there has already been a 35 per cent decline in remittances,” according to Williams; and because of the high dependence of a large section of the Guyanese population on remittances for their day-to-day survival, this crisis is likely to result in damaging increases in the levels of destitution and desperation, as the already large army of the poverty-stricken becomes swollen.
The MP added that the current financial crisis is the worst economic setback for the global economy, great enough to have challenged the Western financial system and put the economies of the BRICK (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Korea) countries under severe strain.
The MP pointed to the fact that, to date, there has been a global response, and at several meetings the representatives of these countries have attempted to reach some understanding of the nature of the crisis and how it might be resolved.
He referred to the recently concluded G-20 Meeting over the weekend to further attempt to understand and to act to bring the global financial crisis under control.
At the regional level, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) is expected to meet and take action on this crisis.
“All of this is occurring at a time when Guyanese are already suffering as a consequence of the economic burdens inflicted by the incompetence of the Jagdeo Administration and the callous imposition of the 16% VAT. It is evident that the significant reduction in remittances will create a shortage of US dollars and result in further increases in the cost-of-living in Guyana.”
The party called for an assembly of ‘leading minds’ to be put to work to prepare a viable programme to rescue the Guyana economy.
“Such a programme would complement the work being done by CARICOM and serve as a basis for representation in other international fora instead,” Williams stated, adding, “There have been several disjointed statements from the President himself and the resident confusionist, Dr. Roger Luncheon, suggesting that Guyana is somehow immune from the crisis, and that all that is necessary is some sort of monitoring capability.”
He pointed out that the PNCR has already gone on record before the current crisis urging the Administration to implement suitable measures to provide positive relief to cushion, particularly the vulnerable sections of the society from the dire economic and social burdens which have resulted in the rapid increase in poverty in Guyana.
The current global financial crisis is likely to aggravate and worsen the existing economic and social situation in Guyana.
Recently, Head of State Bharrat Jagdeo had acknowledged that the world financial crisis will have major implications for countries like Guyana, but these impacts will not be felt here in the immediate future.
He noted that he was not afraid of any immediate impact on the country’s financial sector, he was more concerned about the blow this crisis may have on the rest of Guyana’s economy.
Once credit ‘dries up’ around the world, he noted, local investment companies can be delayed in terms of acquiring capital for their projects.
The Head of State said that once the world’s economies shrink, there will be a reduction in global demand.
Investment flows and remittances could be affected to some extent, while the cost of capital will go up for anyone who wants to borrow for any purpose abroad, he added.
On the positive side, President Jagdeo said that, fortunately, Guyana has a provincial type of banking system; the local businesses are not heavily integrated into the world’s capital, money or bonds markets.
“We are isolated from the impact…if our banks were investing large sums of money in these markets, they would have been affected.”
Just a small part of Guyana’s portfolio, the President said, has been invested in these markets; and, as such, the banking systems essentially remain sound.
“So we may be isolated from that immediate impact, and depositors’ funds should be safe here.”
The Deputy Governor of the Bank of Guyana, Dr Gobind Ganga, also told this newspaper that the Bank was closely monitoring the indirect effects of the financial meltdown as it relates to foreign investors in Guyana.
Dr Ganga noted that, given that the access to credit and loans in the U.S. is now very restricted, the entity was monitoring the situation in the event that foreign investors in Guyana may have a hard time accessing loans.
According to Dr Ganga, if that were to happen, it would be very harmful for Guyana.
He did reveal, however, that some US$200 million in foreign assets, owned by Guyana and invested in the United States of America by the Bank, were safe from the meltdown.
He emphasised that the monies were invested only in federally-backed institutions and, therefore, were protected by legislation.
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