Minister of State, Joseph Harmon said that the government is taking every step to ensure that economic activities are revitalised, and that money continues to flow into the economy.
The Minister was at the time addressing the media at a post-Cabinet press briefing at the Ministry of the Presidency today, on how the government is moving to treat with the reports of the country’s economy slow-down, and talks by some sections of the business community of laying-off some of their workers.
Minister Harmon, in responding said that these reports have been made and in fact have been taken very seriously by Cabinet. He explained that due to these reports, President David Granger has on at least three recent occasions summoned some of the key sector ministers including Finance, Agriculture, Business and Natural Resources to look at options on how to address the slow-down.
Further the minister said that in responding to the slow-down, the government is moving to “pump huge sums of money into the economy” that would generate employment and economic activities.
He noted the $5 Billion that the government will be pouring into the housing sector for the delivery and construction of 758 housing units in Regions 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 10. The money for the construction of these units is projected to have a ripple effect across the economy. It is expected to create employment opportunities for thousands, and increase the demand for construction material.
Minister Harmon assured that, “The economy is always on the forefront of our considerations, not only in the Cabinet but in all of our government undertakings. The impact that the economy has on the people of this country is something which we are very careful about dealing with.”
Minister Harmon did however, point out that the economic slow-down in the country has to be taken in conjunction with economic reality of the neighbouring countries such as Suriname, Brazil, Venezuela and Trinidad and Tobago which are in deep recession, due to falling oil prices and other economic crises.
“These economic (realities) are not strange, people are reading, they are on the internet and they understand what is going on internationally,” he said. “We are doing our best to ensure that we do not have to go down the road, where some of these countries have gone,” he added.
Guyana has been dependent on traditional export products and, as a result, the economy has suffered as bauxite, gold, sugar and rice prices have fallen. The picture is also particularly gloomy for its neighbours, Brazil, Venezuela and Trinidad and Tobago.
The Brazilian economy has been experiencing an economic recession since early 2014 which has continued into 2017. Meanwhile, Venezuela is suffering the worst economic crisis in its history. Ordinary people in this oil-rich country are regularly going without food and three-quarter empty supermarkets are being ransacked by angry, hungry mobs. Trinidad and Tobago has also been experiencing sluggish growth against a backdrop of lower global oil prices, a reduction in local energy production.