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A “NO” Excitement Budget – Initial Assessment

Dr. Peter Ramsaroop

by Dr. Peter Ramsaroop

The first failure of APNU Jordan’s formulation ofthe 2015 budget was the title “A Fresh Approach”.  His reading of the 2015 budget demonstrated border line incompetence as an Economist.  His title should have read “Building on Economic Success”.  Financial Data numbers at the transition distinctly demonstrated the need to build on the platforms that APNU inherited from the PPP.   The business of managing a nation requires both the skills of a sound economist and excitement from a Presidenton the future of the nation.   APNU has put the country in reverse gear and without significant stimulus infusion and changes in the final version, 2015 and beyond will be a rough ride for our citizens.   APNU continues to manage with the two bottom indicators from my evaluation triangle.My only thrill from this budget, was Jordon use of my book title,” Guyana Vision 2020”

The 2015 Budget should have been on furthering immediate economic growth, building on the middle class economy, development of key hardware components such as the Deep Water Harbour, the completion of the Road to Brazil, accelerate and sustain economic growth inkey commodities such as Rice and Sugar by infusing new approaches and value added products.  The introduction of a new ferry to the Northwest would increase trade and immediately solve transport versus the lofty goals that had no measurable outcomes.  Funding was already set aside for the bypass between Ogle and Mocha, the East Coast Demerara Road Corridor.  Plans were also in place for building of a new bridge across the Demerara.  The PPP had already set aside dollars for these components.  His plan was vague on when and how these projects will be realized.  His support for these and other major PPP projects such as the Deep Water Harbour in Berbice as oppose to their plan of the Essequibo River is commendable.  I have to give him credit for taking a chunk of Version 2.0, in order to have some semblance of a real budget.

Real Numbers Do Not Lie

The World Bank projected a steady growth for Guyana (2015-2017- see chart) compared to the Caribbean and South America.   This chart depicts both historical data and projected data.   We cannot assess 2015 at this point, but the World Bank projection was based on the management of the Economy by the PPP Government.   APNU has to deliver and better that projection in order to demonstrate they did not screw with our economy.  Jordan’s budget did nothing to assure that this projection will be realized.  Instead, he spent a lengthy time coming up with excuses, blaming the World and attempted to downsize our GDP growth for 2014.

The soon to be opposition leader and former president, has recently outlined the significant inflows of money into the treasury that can sustain the economy at a level APNU inherited and even pay for 100% of their promises.  The debates will see the PPP having another opportunity to inject real economic infusion into the 2015 budget.

Creating Pathways to High-Growth Jobs

The PPP Version 2.0 which will be the major basis of the debates.   It outlines key initiatives that will lead to high paying jobs, versus the handouts proposed in APNU’s budget.   There were no initiatives on the Technology Parks proposed by the PPP which is a key component in retraining low paying workers into potential higher paying jobs but a statement by Jordan that they will develop a plan for the ICT sector.  The development of Ethanol from Sugar and creation of Value added Manufacturing that all are pathways to high growth and paying jobs, this was not mentioned.   The PPP had proposed the building of technical institutes in Region 1 and 9 with the goal of making future jobs local to the village economies.  Without the rapid development of alternative energy at a large scale will hinder any major initiatives of growth.  The USA supports the Amaila Falls Project, this need to be on the forefront on any “Green Economy” approach, unless he was speaking about the APNU Flag.He did support the PPP plan for the Deep Water Harbour in Berbice.

Conclusion:

 Investing in Guyana’s future is the key for the 2015-2017 economic growth projection to be achieved.  The fact that the Airport Project, that is a key ingredient to the growth of our nation, will be continued by the APNU administration.  This was one of the first realizations that Version 2.0 projects are absolutely necessary to recreate the excitement and confidence in our economy to demonstrate that Guyana continues to grow.At the end of 3+ hours, Jordan’s budget was a wish list without any empirical data analysis to support his laundry list of new programs.

1.       Smokes and Mirrors

2.       Broken Promises

3.       Giving with one hand and talking away with the other

4.       Continuing many PPP projects

5.       All the Road Projects were part of the PPP plan

6.       Nothing new in his budget – but fluffy statements

7.       Gave Pensioners an increase but took away their water and electricity subsidy – how dumb

8.       Gave a salary increase but took away the education grant for their children – so basically no new money for a public servant with a child

9.       Gave us a few token additions to the VAT Zero rated items, but fail to deliver the promised rate reduction

10.   APNU cannot say they found high tax rates and high evasion when they came into office.  They said they knew about all those things while in the Opposition and still made their promises. 

11.   They had no answer to Rice and Sugar

12.   At least his wish list did not see any purchases of F16s to fight Venezuela. / End