By Kiana Wilburg
On Tuesday, A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) recently met with the Article IV Mission from the
International Monetary Fund (IMF).
The APNU representatives were brutally honest when they informed the IMF team that while the organisation seeks opinions on the economic and social status of the country annually, the reports seem to be “divorced from reality.”
The APNU team admitted that it had never been this candid with the Article IV Missions before. The APNU team felt that if the reports are not going to reflect a complete picture of the economy, then there was little point in having the discussions.
Some parts of the report had the characteristics of a “fairytale”, APNU said.
The IMF team is currently on a mission to gather material on the economic and social developments since the last mission.
The IMF, with which the People’s National Congress had built very good relations in the course of implementing the Economic Recovery Programme between 1988 and 1992, covers188 countries.
It works to foster global monetary cooperation, secure financial stability, facilitate international trade, promote high employment and sustainable economic growth, and reduce poverty around the world.
The IMF Mission also met with the Alliance For Change (AFC).
APNU’S Carl Greenidge, who serves as the finance and planning point man, told Kaieteur News that accompanying him to that meeting was the advisor to the leader of the Opposition, Lance Carberry, and the Shadow Minister for Local Government, Ronald Bulkan.
Greenidge stated that the meeting with the IMF team is routine. After the information gathering process is completed, the team then reports to the IMF Board with recommendations.
Greenidge said that over recent years, the IMF team would note the concerns of the opposition but few if any of these, would be reflected in its report to the Board level, and even in its published edition.
“You get the impression that they visited a different country. Most of the issues we raised with them are missing from the report.”
The former finance minister said that the 2013 IMF Article IV Mission report highlighted all the financial and economic positive developments in Guyana including growth rates.
“However, it seemed completely blind to the problems bedeviling the country and threatening the very sustainable growth that it spoke of.” He said that the IMF team was told that the report, after examination of its content, was one-sided.
Greenidge said that the team told the IMF contingent that its reports fail to reflect the concerns and controversy over workers’ right to collective bargaining, the dramatically escalating incidence of corruption and its impact on the country’s performance under the index and report on the “Ease of doing business in Guyana.”
The politician said that the growing scale of poverty was also brought to the attention of the members.
The APNU Parliamentarian said that the IMF reports pay little attention to the absence of good governance, and the unfair allocation of state assets and widespread abuse of fiscal concessions.
“When the (IMF) fails to pay attention to these matters, it comes as a surprise to the Board to know that we are in this kind of constitutional crisis. “The team asked us to comment on the current political climate, since the prorogation of parliament and we told them about our concerns and the implications of this Government’s approach to the Anti-Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism Bill.
“We also registered our concern about the neglect of the National Poverty Reduction Strategy, which seems to have been forced to yield priority to the National Competitiveness Strategy.
“This shouldn’t be the case. We also spoke about the unemployment rate, the need for job creation, and the implications of the failing National Insurance Scheme for the conditions for workers. It was a very candid presentation by us,” said Greenidge.
He said that the IMF team seemed more interested in talking about the Amaila Falls Hydropower facility and the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism Bill.
Greenidge said that while he informed them that the political opposition has no problem in principle with a hydro project, he emphasized that there were specific and major concerns about the Amaila project.
He said that every major investment project undertaken by the PPP Government has been characterized by corruption and illegalities and as such, the opposition has been justifiably intense when it comes to scrutiny.
He made reference to three major governmental projects, the Specialty Hospital, Marriott Hotel and the Skeldon Sugar Factory.
The government is in a habit of misrepresenting the facts about the objectives and importance of such projects.
He told the IMF delegation that the government continues to spend money on certain projects even though the Opposition in the National Assembly has called on it to not do so. As a consequence, Greenidge related that it is now facing many financial and technical issues.
The politician also stressed to the contingent that for the Amaila Hydro Project to be successful, it must be well packaged or it would bring down the whole economy.
As for the Anti Money Laundering Bill which the IMF team seemed keen to defend, Greenidge said that he pointed to the members, the number of technical issues that must be given due attention if the Bill is to have any power once passed.
He explained the thinking behind objections to the draft Bill.
Greenidge concluded that previous discussions had never been conducted with the IMF members in such a candid manner.
Bulkan, another4 member of the APNU delegation, said that APNU also made known concerns about widening income disparities, lack of accountability, issues relating to public procurement, discrimination in public policy, skewed priorities in infrastructure investment, and the deteriorating education system.
He too sought to underline the fact that the IMF reports are largely divorced from reality and that there is need for more objectivity since many ordinary hard-working Guyanese are suffering.
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