…but Agriculture sector shrinks by 10 percent- Minister Jordan
Guyana’s economy grew by two percent in the first half of 2016, with astronomical performances from
the gold industry accounting for the increase. While there is overall good news for the economy, the agriculture sector has shrunk over the same period.
This is according to Minister of Finance, Winston Jordan, who reported on the contents of the 2016 Half Year Report on how Guyana’s economy has performed during a press conference. The report was also laid in the National Assembly yesterday.
“This very good performance was attributed largely to growth in the mining and quarrying sector. That sector grew by 65.7 percent, (from June 2015 to June 2016). Gold increased, half year to half year, by 94.3 percent.”
“Bauxite increased by 2.9 percent. Other growth poles were other crops, which grew by two percent, Livestock by eight percent and fisheries by 2.1 percent.”
Jordan compared the two percent growth rate to the corresponding period last year. At the time a 0.9 percent growth rate had been recorded.
However, Jordan revealed that Guyana’s agriculture sector contracted by 10 percent, during the period January to June 2016 when compared to the same period last year.
He stated that this was because of the shortfalls in sugar production. Jordan revealed that this has caused a domino effect on the manufacturing sector.
“Sugar was down 30 percent, rice down 26.2 percent. Forestry was down 13.1 percent. As a result of these critical areas, rice and sugar the manufacturing sector contracted by 14.1 percent, because these two sectors dominate the manufacturing sector.”
Notwithstanding this, Jordan insisted that the outlook was still good. He noted that with the projected returns from gold (650,000 ounces), the negative returns from sugar and rice ought to be off set.
“Our outlook for GDP for the rest of the year is four percent, which is more or less in line with what the IMF (International Monetary Fund) predicted earlier this year. But it will be slightly down from our budgeted forecast of 4.4 percent.”
“We are being conservative, because we think that performances in some of the other sectors might take us back to 4.4 percent at the stage we are revising growth rate to four percent for the rest of the year.”
On the matter of Governments’ reserves, Jordan stated that this was healthy. He stated that this was up to US$634.6M, from US$626.9M for the corresponding period last year. Jordan also reported that inflation, the sustained increase in the cost of goods and services, was 1.1 percent. Jordan noted that this comes after a deflation was recorded last year.
Jordan also revealed that Government’s surplus was cut in half, from $17.9B last year to $8.8B in 2016. However, Government has upped its revenue collection by 9.7 percent, while expenditure that does not attract interest on the Government’s part also increased by 32.9 percent.
The Minister also reported an increase in capital expenditure of $89.4M, though he hastened to note that this does not mean rate of implementation relative to the budget.
The Finance Minister recently revealed that gold production for April amounted to 60,558 ounces, conjectured with 36,629 ounces achieved in April of last year. According to Jordan, gold production thus amounted to 222,500 ounces from January to April, 2016, representing an increase of 104.8 percent for the corresponding period in 2015.
Meanwhile, sugar production for January to April 2016 totaled 55,687 tonnes, compared to 67,555 tonnes achieved for the corresponding period in 2016, a 17.6 percent.
In the case of rice production from January to April, 2016, this was registered at 205,208 tonnes, compared to 303,314 tonnes produced during the same period last year.
The figures for the agriculture sector will not be good news for Minister of Agriculture, Noel Holder, who is already facing pressure for trouble in both the rice and sugar sectors.
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