Jul 25, 2016 News
By: Kiana Wilburg
Recent statistics have painted a rosy picture of Guyana’s economy.
But are these stats telling the truth about the health of the nation? Or are they hiding some worrying socio-economic concerns?
According to Executive Member of the Working People’s Alliance (WPA), Dr. David Hinds, economic statistics do not always tell the story of the poor and powerless in the society. In fact, the political activist said that those statistics often mask that story.
In his most recent column, he opined that the ultimate measure of the health of an economy such as Guyana’s, is the extent to which people are working and making a living wage, and whether small- and medium-sized businesses are generating a living income for their owners.
Yesterday, Dr. Hinds told this newspaper, “I do believe that macro-economic statistics hide the truth about some of the nation’s ailments. The latest statistics do point to the fact that some revenue earners like gold and bauxite are doing well and that the economy is on track to securing continued growth, but how can we really say that the economy is well when about 40 percent of the population is unemployed?”
Chartered Accountant, Anand Goolsarran tends to agree. Even he opined that some financial analysts get carried away by economic indicators such as the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). He stressed, however, that the real test of the economy’s health would involve an on the ground check with the vendors, the farmers, the businessmen and even the consumers.
Goolsarran said, “In general, businesses are complaining that all is not well. And as much as we are talking about all the statistics and so forth, we need to understand that the economy was never healthy. We had a false economy because more than half of it was bloated with a lot of revenue from corrupt practices such as money laundering and drug trafficking. And when that dirty money was flowing through the system, everything seemed to be big and beautiful and booming.”
“But we were only fooling ourselves. And the little bit of squeeze we are feeling is because the government is really clamping down on the illegalities in the system. We are going through a corrective period which will lead us to a more legal and healthy economy. And for that, the people on the ground need to be more patient and understanding.”
The Chartered Accountant said that Guyana cannot and should not go along anymore with an economy that was allowed by the past regime to become “obese with immorality and rank corruption.”
Goolsarran said he is in support of government’s move to clamp down on corruption for it is necessary for the nation’s future wellbeing.
Recently, the Ministry of Finance reported that Central Government’s revenues totaled $53.4 billion at the end of April 2016. It explained that this represents an increase of 5.9 percent or $3 billion compared to revenue collections during the same period – January to April – last year.
Finance Minister, Winston Jordan had said that this growth was mainly driven by a number of factors. He said that these include efficiency measures implemented by the Government including “tightening up at ports, new focus on the regions and a clampdown on illegal activities.”
The Finance Ministry in its Economic Bulletin Report also stated that increased non-tax revenues (revenue earned from sources other than taxes) as well as tax revenues, contributed to the increase in central government revenues. It said that the non-tax revenues increased as a result of a payment of $100 million by DDL and increased spending during Jubilee activities.
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