During a recent TV programme, an obviously irate caller, annoyed with the host for saying that the Granger Administration had done nothing constructive for Guyana since taking office, asked “What did the APNU inherit from the PPP?” This loaded question was meant to justify the non-performance of the Granger Administration by insinuating there wasn’t much they could have done with a “bankrupt” economy.
Sadly, this caller was one of the many PNC/APNU apologists who are unwilling to think for themselves, and prefer to repeat the mantra started by the caretaker President himself, when he announced in the National Assembly that his government inherited a “depressed economy” from the PPP/C in 2015.
As we approach another national and regional election, it is therefore necessary to once again set the record straight by reminding everyone what the Guyana economy was like when the PPP/C demitted office, and why the PPP/C is the best choice, the most experienced, the most knowledgable with the best leadership to rebuild this economy when this caretaker President and his minions are through depleting the treasury.
In 1992, the Guyana economy was bankrupt. The country’s infrastructure was in a state of disrepair. Schools and hospital buildings were dilapidated and unfunded. Basic food items and pharmaceuticals were in short supply. And foreign currency was unavailable for the importation of vehicles, equipment, spare parts or anything else. 153% of the country’s revenue was used to service foreign debt. In May 2015, this was reduced to just 5%.
The road to economic recovery came with a heavy price tag and lots of sacrifices. Over its 23 years in government, the PPP/C paid off US$3 Billion in external debts that the PNC had accumulated during its 28 years in government. It took prudent management of our resources by successive PPP/C administrations to rebuild Guyana to the robust economy David Granger inherited in 2015, and it was done without waiting for oil revenue.
From 2006 to 2014, the Guyana economy was the fastest growing in the region with a continuous positive growth rate of 4.5% per annum. This was also the longest period of uninterrupted economic growth in the history of independent Guyana. By contrast, due mainly to poor management and excessive spending, this growth rate declined to 3.1% in 2015; 3.4% in 2016; 2.1% in 2017 and 3.4% in 2018.
In 2014, the last full year of the PPP/C in office, Guyana’s total international reserves were US$668 million. By March of last year, that amount fell to US$518.5 million.
At the end of 2014, gold reserves in the Bank of Guyana totaled $25 Billion. In June 2018 this amount was reduced to $3.1 Billion, and today, this has further dwindled to a disturbingly low $589 million.
In 2014, the last year that the PPP produced a Budget, the total tax take by the GRA was $135 Billion. Since 2015, the Granger Administration has introduced over 200 new tax measures on the backs of ordinary Guyanese, raking in $223 Billion in taxes, that’s $88 Billion more in tax revenue on an annual basis.
At the end of 2014, the total assets held at commercial banks were $421.8 billion. Commercial banks were therefore in a position to provide substantial credit to the private sector. Interest rates in 1992 were 35%. By the end of 2014, Interest rates had reduced to 10.8%, much more favourable to those borrowing.
At the same time, our exchange rate was very stable. It was $206 to US$1 in 2014, compared to $216 to US$1 today.
In addition, the APNU+AFC Coalition borrowed over US$900 million – US$600 million of which was funded by the local banking system – adding to the national debt and making it difficult for ordinary citizens and the private sector to borrow money from commercial banks.
These figures, however, do not tell the whole story. The strides by the PPP/C were made in a very hostile environment by the then political opposition. One must recall the riots and destruction by fire after the 1992, 1997 and 2001 elections when businesses suffered millions of dollars in damage. These were clear attempts to destabilize our country.
And we must not forget that the last three years of the PPP/C government were even more difficult. APNU and the AFC displayed their total anti-developmental and anti-national side. They used their combined one-seat majority to block every developmental project including the Amaila Falls Hydro Electricity Project and the Specialty Hospital Project. They voted against paying government workers, voted to cut the capital budget of the Ministry of Public Works and the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs. They voted against money to help the sugar industry to restructure and mechanize more of its operations in the field and factory, just to name a few.
The achievements were made in very unfavourable international circumstances as well. One may recall the destructive financial and economic crisis that gripped the world at the beginning of 2008 and lasted until 2012. That crisis affected our entire region, including our major trading partners.
But impressive as the PPP/C government was in the economic sphere, it was not all they managed to achieve. The PPP/C had secured US$250 million under the Guyana/Norway partnership on climate financing. Of this, US$190 million was already earned and only US$40 million disbursed to projects at the end of 2014.
The APNU regime, therefore, had a lot of money to spend. More than US$500M of resources was already secured to finance developmental projects. These included US$30 million for China Exim Bank to construct a new airport; US$66.2 million from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to fund a road network upgrade and expansion project; US$64.6 million from the IDB and EU to fund a power utility upgrade programme; US$50 million from the India Exim Bank to fund the East Coast to East Bank bypass road; US$34.4 million from the Caribbean Development Bank to fund the West Coast Demerara highway upgrade project; US$31.7 million from the IDB and EU to fund a water and sanitation infrastructure improvement project; US$15 million from IDB for a new Citizens Security project; US$12 million from World Bank for a Flood Risk Management project; US$10 million from the World Bank for a new Secondary Education Improvement project; US$10 million from the World Bank for the University of Guyana’s Science and Technology Support project; US$7.5 million from the Caribbean Development Bank to fund a sugar industry mechanization project; and a firm commitment from the Indian government to help in the re-capitalization of the sugar industry.
The source of the above projects and figures were taken from several credible online financial institutions including the Bank of Guyana and The World Bank.
Former President, Donald Ramotar also contributed and alluded to most of these facts in a letter, “Under the PPP/C, Guyana had the fastest growing economy in the region”.
Apart from the dynamic investments above, the PPP/Civic government had secured not just growing local private investments, but some important foreign direct investments into our economy, many of which are now contributing in driving our economy.
The following are some of these investments that came into commercial operation at the end of the PPP/C administration, or shortly thereafter: Major oil and gas exploration activities, these included Exxon/Esso, Repsol and CGX; three major gold mines were ready to commence commercial operations, namely, Guyana Gold Fields Ltd/AGM, ETK/Sandsprings and Troy Resources. Mining of other minerals including Reunion Manganese and First Bauxite; a large scale agricultural project in the Rupununi – Santa Fe farms; two large information and communications technology investments – Qualfon and Teleperformance.
The performance of the PPP/C government, therefore, generated great confidence in both local and foreign investors. The above is a snapshot of the robust economy that the PPP/Civic left. Our economy was clearly strong and growing fast despite the opposition and any challenges it encountered.
The APNU regime took over at a time when Guyana was leading the rest of the region. This regime had a very sound foundation on with to build upon. They screwed up big time.
PPP/C Member of Parliament
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