It is not uncommon for third world countries such as Guyana to operate on a hap-hazard policy basis. Whatever happens, the government reacts and just lets out a half-baked policy paper without any serious intellectual thought at its convenience. Guyana too is no exception, we are about to embark on the journey of being a petro-state without an iota of preparation. With our level of preparation or lack thereof, failure seems the only logical answer, for those who fail to prepare must prepare to fail.
The current David Granger led administration has displayed contempt towards good, common-sense economics that is capable of an inclusive growth and development framework. Thus far, in almost five years, the government has shown zero initiative, they have not unveiled any projects that would transform our infrastructure, diversify the economy, add value to the product or result in any new industrial capacity.
The shunning of many projects such as Amalia Falls, the deep-water harbour and the Lethem-Linden Highway without a viable alternative speaks volumes of petty politics and a lack of vision. Before one disregards and discontinues an initiative, at the very least, something of similar or greater worth should be floated. To date, the only thing the government has embarked on has been the D’Urban Park Project.
Further, we must note the botched Airport expansion which has seen Guyanese taxpayers pay exorbitantly for works that are uncompleted and costs that are as inflated as the Venezuelan economy, only to be rewarded with clogged toilets and other deficiencies. The Marriott fiasco that was manufactured by the new government when in the opposition appears to be their project of choice, simply because they lack any alternatives.
Guyana has been for the last 5 years or so, operating without a clear economic policy which would translate into a sustainable development plan. Such a plan would have identified clear sector, production and value-added goals, a timeline, tax incentives, and a government infrastructural plan to facilitate the expansion of the private sector. We have not seen anything remotely close to this, at one stage we were promised a plan but to date, this remains a politicians’ promise.
Similarly, there is nothing being done for job creation, which remains possibly the single largest issue facing the country. The Bureau of Statistics data clearly shows that since independence, Guyana’s unemployment has never fallen below double digits. When asked about this in a seemingly scripted interview, President Granger advised youths to make plantain chips and cook-up to get by.
The twin evils – the Dutch Disease coupled with the Natural Resource Curse sits on Guyana’s front step seemingly welcome to enter at any moment. No plan has been fabricated to counter this imminent danger. In fact, the Finance Minister doesn’t seem to understand the difference between these two, an unthinkable feat! Will our exchange rates be determined only by market forces? Will Guyana export nothing but oil? Will we allow all other sectors to decline as the black gold pours in? What are our plans to counter this?
Most importantly, how will the oil revenues be used? What are the short, medium and long term sustainable developmental goals for the oil revenues? What projects are going to be pursued? Where is that plan?
Mr. Editor, at this point, anything that comes from the government will be gleefully accepted as the nation starves for common sense in policymaking. Is it too much to ask our government to show us the road they plan on taking us down?
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