Guyana eyes 50th Independence, Caricom Summit for increased spending

Last Updated on Wednesday, 16 March 2016, 13:54 by Denis Chabrol

The Guyana government is partly banking on the 50th Independence anniversary and the Caricom Summit to trigger higher consumer spending and help revive a still sluggish economy.

Shrugging off concerns in certain quarters that about GYD$300 million is being spent on the Jubilee activities, Finance Minister Winston Jordan called the amount of money allocated to the Ministry of Education “peanuts” compared to Barbados’ spending on its 50th anniversary celebration.

“That event, together with the Heads of Government which we are hosting this year, are two principal events that will drive private sector expansion and consumerism in this economy this year,” he told a news conference.

Guyana and the Caricom Secretariat have agreed to host the next Caricom Summit in July, 2016 because Dominica, which should have been the next host nation, was still reeling from the effects of a violent storm last year.

Jordan said he was unaware that businesses that contribute to the 50th anniversary celebrations would receive a tax rebate. “I know of no agreement, oral or otherwise of any tax exemptions for the things they have given nor for any future,” he said, adding that those contributions were outside the Ministry of Finance.

Reacting to concerns about the allocation of the US$1.5 million (GYD$300 million), he  called that amount “peanuts” and far less than what cash-strapped Barbados has allocated for its Independence celebrations. ““I don’t know why we are so small-minded and petty,” he said.

He expects that at a minimum, the economy would generate an additional GYD$60 million from the monies that would be spent by the Ministry of Education’s Department of Culture.

He thinks that there will be a record number of tourists and a record number of spending during Guyana’s jubilee celebrations in May of this year.