by Zena Henry
Minister of Business Dominic Gaskin has rubbished claims by the opposition People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) that Guyana is heading into a recession since the coalition government took office.
Rather, Gaskin says the only problem he knows affecting the business sector in Guyana is that investors are unhappy with the way the country went about its transactions.
Gaskin says he has no data showing that there is an economic slowdown. According to Gaskin, “Most of the complaints from the private sector relate to the problems with the system; processing of custom entries, import licenses and other documents pertinent for transactions.”
He said he has not received any complaints from the private sector to say that the economy is slowing. Gaskin made the statements Thursday July 2, in an invited comment since main Opposition members Irfaan Ali and Robeson Benn made allegations earlier in the day of a looming economic slump due to no government spending, rise in prices, low investment and policy unpredictability among other more social factors. The alarm was based on “acid tests,” complaints, particularly from the private sector and “PPP economists” predictions. “Again we need data to support that, you can’t just look around and say that,” Gaskin responded. “That may have been in the past, the way of the previous administration, they never relied on data and proper analysis to do things.”
The Minister noted that, “Even if there were data to show that there has been a downturn in the economy, I would say it would largely be due to events that would have occurred before the election as opposed to post-elections.”
The new government has been in office less than two months after 23- years of another government and the former Public Works Minister Benn said that it is the first time he had seen such sluggishness in economic activity since the last four or five elections.
Ali said it was abnormal that the economy would slow down since new government brings new confidence.
The former Housing Minister suggested that government poosl the money from state accounts in commercial banks starting with the $8B from his former Housing Ministry to invest in projects to create jobs and stimulate other economic activities.
Gaskin suggested that the opposition take their concerns to the House of Assembly, “which is the forum for any sort of conversation.”
That’s where they can represent their constituents and we can have dialogue,” and even work together to solve some of these problems that their bringing up,” he said. The PPP is yet to take up its 32 seats in the 65-seat National Assembly.
Data shows however that in 2014 the country’s economy slumped by 3.9 percent under the People’s Progressive Party government which was unseated after the 2015 General and Regional elections less than eight weeks ago.