Guyana is more indebted than it was 20 years ago.
At least that is what Moses Nagamootoo, the Alliance For Change (AFC) Parliamentarian, expressed
in his presentation during the Parliamentary debate on the $192.8B National Budget on Tuesday.
In a fiery presentation, Nagamootoo insisted that Guyana’s debt is now about a $1B more than it was in 1992.
In that year, when there was a change of government to the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C), the debt stood at US$2.1B.
“In pure Guyana dollars terms, without looking at percentage of GDP or other factors, at the then prevailing rate of G$125 to US$1, the 1992 debt was $252,500,000,000. Today, 20 years later, and in spite of write-offs, cancellation and rescheduling, our national debt stands at US$1.2 B which, at the current buying rate of G$207 to US$1, amounts to G$253,400,000,000 – nearly $1B more over 1992,” he told the National Assembly.
Nagamootoo, a former senior executive of the PPP who moved over to the AFC shortly before the November 28th General and Regional Elections, said that no amount of statistical juggling would hide the reality that in fiscal terms, Guyana is like a dog chasing its own tail.
“We are once again in the middle of the vicious debt circle. There is no comparison between the effects, impact and miseries caused by the old debt and the new debt, amortization of which has not started to kick in. But there is no pride in boasting about our debt stock either. And with borrowing expected to exceed $26 billion this year alone, we will set a new record high national debt ceiling.”
“With Guyana’s population standing at 750,000, the figures would represent a sad caricature of debt tragedy. What is worse yet is that Guyana is boasting one of the highest per capita debts in the world.”
This figure Nagamootoo described as “the unholy trinity”.
“Each child born in the Jagdeo-Ramotar era would henceforth carry a debt tag at birth of $333,333.”
The AFC official went further.
“The Minister (of Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh) who likes comparisons, may be interested to note that the deficit in the Consolidated Fund in 1987 was $6,558,700,000. Today, it is (before grants) $42,693,100,000, and (after grant) $26,463,800,000.”
Nagamootoo slammed the attitude of government. “The same impetus that drove those who mismanaged the economy in the past, is driving us again today, that is, a little borrowing is not bad. So, again, this year, like the addict hooked on morphine, we continue to ease the pain of deficit financing with external borrowing in the sum of $26B, and domestic borrowing, at almost $1.5B.”
This could be more, if Guyana fails to draw down on the US$250M “Norway Funds”.
“Debt servicing in 2012 will be $6,707,500,000. In 2010 and 2011, it was in excess of $7 Billion and $8 Billion respectively – over $20 Billion in three years. This speaks to the mismanagement of our economy, not to its dynamism, if we have to live on borrowed moneys and, like a mendicant, we walk the globe with a begging bowl in our hands.”
The ruling PPP/C is facing an unprecedented situation since taking power in 1992, as it will be the first budget where the party does not have the 50-plus per cent it needs to hold the majority.
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