By Rawle Lucas
Future of the country
This writer wishes to make it clear from the outset that this article is not intended to denigrate anyone. The objective is to provide readers and other Guyanese with a context in which to judge the performance of those leading the country or wishing to lead it.
Where opportunities to compare performance exist, this article does so since talk is cheap and hard cold facts expose the truth. Like the Mighty Chalkdust would say, “I am just the umpire”.
At some point in the near future, Guyana will have national and regional elections and it is being said that the upcoming elections in Guyana are about the future of the country. Indeed, with oil and gas set to become an integral part of the production structure of the economy, the country will become different.
It will become larger. It will become richer and it will become more populous and diverse. Within these changes will be the expectant people of Guyana whose wellbeing must remain the foremost interest of any future government.
These changes will have to be managed responsibly. The United Nations Committee for Development Policy observed that a good development governance system must place emphasis on its human and productive assets if future growth and improved human wellbeing are to be achieved.
Embedded in the concept of a good governance system articulated by the Committee for Development Policy is the need for a trusted leader who has integrity and humility among the leadership traits.
Behaviour of productive capacity
The wellbeing of Guyanese is therefore connected to the behaviour of the productive capacity of this country. The productive capacity of a country refers to the amount of a country’s resources that is available to produce more goods and services each year.
It includes the resources used by both the private sector and the public sector to produce goods and services. If one thinks of his or her own business or even that of a company, one would realise that the productive assets are among the most important things needed to increase the income of the business and to help it expand.
The productive capacity includes physical assets like land, equipment, factories, warehouses, trucks, tools, money and services such as transportation, telecommunication services and energy services that are used in a business.
In a country, the productive assets also include the houses that people build for residential purposes. It is no different for a government. The productive capacity refers to the same set of items mentioned above, including office space that it builds for its staff and taxpayers and infrastructure that it puts in place to facilitate production of goods and services and payment of higher salaries.
Many who comment on the performance of the PPP/C when it was in power often refer to how it destroyed the sugar industry and kept hiding the naked truth from sugar workers about the dim future of sugar in Guyana.
To keep the charade going, it went so far as to use the money of Guyanese taxpayers to subsidise the consumption of sugar by foreign countries. People became aware of that when they realised that GUYSUCO was producing sugar at a cost higher than it could export it.
What people were unaware of was the massive damage the PPP/C had done to the productive capacity of not only GUYSUCO, but also the entire country during 1998 and 2015. The graph displayed below captures the evidence of why GUYSUCO and other entities struggled in this country.
From the evidence below, it has nothing to do with the Granger administration as the leader of the opposition is trying to make Guyanese believe.
The graph was taken from a 2018 World Bank report and it shows the productive capacity of Guyana from 1990 to 2017. It expresses in percentage terms the amount of the country’s resources that was available to produce more goods and services annually.
What the graph above also reveals is the combined effect of the incompetence and corruption of those who managed the economy after the late President Hugh Desmond Hoyte had left office.
The available data in the graph shows that from 1990 to 1992 President Hoyte built a skyscraper of productive capacity and put Guyana in a position where 51 percent of its income could be used to produce goods and services, increase investments, grow the incomes of workers and create additional employment.
In other words, both the public and private sectors had regained the ability to expand business operations and grow the economy for the benefit of the people. It was a hopeful time for Guyana.
The elections came towards the end of 1992 and people opted to let the PPP/C form a government to lead the country. Because of the productive capacity inherited from President Hoyte, the Guyana economy grew in the range of 6.18 to 8.53 percent per annum in real terms until 1997. The late President Dr. Cheddi Jagan understood the importance of having a strong productive capacity and was making efforts to rebuild it when he met his demise.
After President Cheddi Jagan was gone, Guyana never regained a productive capacity above 31 percent where he left it until President Granger came along. In contrast, the economy lost ground in 1998 when it contracted 1.68 percent.
The most telling part of the graph though is the long and continuous decline in productive capacity of the country between 1997 and 2006. During his long tenure of 12 years, the leader of the opposition could not get the productive capacity to where Dr. Jagan left it and to where President Granger has already taken it in less than three years.
The graph shows that at 31.09 percent of GDP that things are getting better and the full impact of the oil and gas industry has not even kicked in as yet.
A contributing factor to the failure of the PPP/C is the new Skeldon Sugar Factory, which is a millstone around the neck of GUYSUCO. Even though money was spent building the factory, it could not be used effectively and so the productive capacity of the country fell.
People retain painful memories of the collapse of CLICO and the collapse of the bridge over the Rupununi River. No one knows today where the ”Technology Park” that was to be built since 2009 went even though money was allocated in the budget for it.
People remember the incomplete accounting of monies connected to Cricket World Cup. People recall the road to Amaila Falls that was never built to satisfaction or completion by the original contractor.
As people’s memories are jolted, they remember the fiasco surrounding the fibre optic cable and the loss of money from the unbuilt Specialty Hospital.
And so, when the PPP/C handed over the reins of government to the Granger administration, the productive capacity of the economy was in natural decline by 2015. The productive capacity has now been increased to over 31 percent.
It is this laudable effort at repositioning Guyana for future strong and fast economic growth at this hopeful time that the PPP/C has no confidence in Guyana.
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