says ‘lawlessness’ in Guyana allows ‘economic predators’
Former Finance Minister Carl Greenidge, who has lost his job as a lead negotiator with the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) after a complaint by the Guyana Government, says that one of the biggest challenges the country faces is the unfair application of the law, which allows for “economic predators.”
Greenidge said, yesterday, that if the rule of law is implemented in a way that is whimsical, unbalanced and unfair, “people, who by virtue of physical and other power, get access to resources do well in the community whereas the weak will suffer.”
It was Greenidge’s comments on the economy that infuriated the government, causing the Bharrat Jagdeo administration to indicate to the CARICOM Secretariat that it no longer had confidence in him.
Greenidge was serving as the Senior Deputy Director of the Office of Trade Negotiations (OTN) of the CARICOM Secretariat, but he was not rehired.
Yesterday, Greenidge moved to accept a nomination by party groups of the Opposition People’s National Congress/Reform (PNCR) to be the party’s presidential candidate at next year’s general elections. He handed over requirement documents to General Secretary Oscar Clarke.
Speaking just after the handing over, Greenidge said that he has written the CARICOM Secretary General for an explanation of why he was not rehired.
The OTN was set up to assume the functions of the Caribbean Regional Negotiating Machinery (CRNM) and members of staff were to be hired the same way as that of the general Secretariat staff.
That process was to be done in 2009, but never happened. As a result, Greenidge and other OTN staff were put on a one year contract for 2010. His contract came to an end of November 11, given the accumulation of leave.
Secretary General Edwin Carrington, who demitted office on December 31, had indicated that the rehiring of Greenidge was a question of the availability of resources. But even if that were true, Greenidge said it doesn’t seem logical that in a situation of budget allocation that one would move to fire the head of its technical team.
Greenidge served as Minister of Finance until October 1992, when the People’s National Congress lost the elections to ruling People’s Progressive Party (PPP).
He admits that when the PNC was voted out, the country was in an economic quagmire. But he insists it was a problem that resulted from several factors, including the fact that the debt burden the country was saddled with also came as a result of the accumulation of debt by the PPP in the 1960’s as well as those of the PNC in the 1970s and 1980s.
Greenidge challenged President Jagdeo’s repeated assertion that in 1992 when the PPP took office, 94 percent of revenue had to be used to service debt. He said the President’s figure is “fictitious.”
While much of the debt burden was eased mainly due to debt write-offs during the time of the PPP in office, Greenidge countered that “the negotiations that enabled us to get out of that debt were undertaken during the time I was in office.”
He emphasised that the different and unique debt programmes and the special treatment meted out to Guyana was as a result of work done from 1989 to 1992.
“The fundamental groundwork for the writing off of the multilateral debt that took place in the late 1990s took place while I was in office,” he reiterated.
He said that the debts of the PPP and the PNC were accumulated in a framework that seemed ‘cool,’ in that the interest rate on the debts was linked to LIBOR, an international interest rate, which did not move for decades.
“But we could not have anticipated the international inflation that took place afterwards, and so if you had your interest rate linked to LIBOR and when the LIBOR started to move and move rapidly, then your debt stock increased far faster that exports could increase; that is what happened.”
Guyana suffered worst, he suggested, because on the inflation side the country had to rely on imported fuel to meet all the country’s fuel needs.
But even as Greenidge tries to defend his record as Finance Minister and to comment on the state of the economy, he proffers that” before you worry about the economy you have to be worried about the framework within which the economy functions.”
He said that the bigger problem all the community faces is insecurity arising from killings and murders and mayhems in entire communities.
“We have to find a way to treat with that because investment would not come and that little which comes will flee,” Greenidge asserted.
“The problem with lawlessness is a major problem in the country.”
The PNC has set up a Presidential Process Committee to choose who will receive the nod to lead the country into general elections later this year.
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