What is Guyana doing wrong?

first_imgDear Editor,Now that Finance Minister Winston Jordan has confirmed information that both he and I knew since the end of February 2018, I say the Guyanese economy is in trouble. A growth rate of 2.1 per cent for 2017 was announced.There is clearly a lesson this Granger regime refuses to learn from the rest of the world. But let us not even go to Asia, let us reflect on Africa. That continent failed in its lost decades, between 1970 and 2000. However, today the World Bank has projected that Africa would grow by some 3.6 per cent in 2019, and some 3.3 per cent in 2018; compared to 2.5 per cent in 2017.Guyana, on the other hand, is projected to be moving in the opposite direction, with a forecasted growth rate of 1.1 per cent in 2019, and 1.8 per cent in 2018; on the back of a 2.1 per cent growth in 2017. Guyana looks set to expect zero growth by 2020 if this policy paralysis of Mr Jordan’s continues.What can Mr Jordan learn from Africa?Managed the economies better. With policy stars like President Paul Kagame in Rwanda in power, their positive policy influence is infecting the continent. Every African leader wants to be the next Paul Kagame, who uses drones to deliver medical supplies and blood to remote hospitals in the mountains in hours, when in the past the same operation took days by land.In Rwanda, which is growing by almost 7 per cent, the Government has actively reduced the fiscal deficit as a percent of GDP in 2017, and it is set to reduce further in 2018.Investors need stability. An increasing number of African leaders are becoming global dealmakers who offer international investors fiscal stability. The change in leadership in South Africa happened for a principled reason: to weed out the corrupt one, only to replace him with professional business magnate. Out went Zuma, in came Ramaphosa. The billionaire President Cyril Ramaphosa is a private sector man who is on a mission to grow his nation’s private sector as a means of putting his people to work.Competent debt management. Africa is extremely careful in how it is managing its debt. Even a basket case like Zimbabwe has signed on to this mission. President Mnangagwa was successful in getting China to write off all of Zimbabwe’s debt owed to that country in exchange for favoured access to some of the mineral wealth. What this transaction did was positively change the cash flow dynamics in that country with the stroke of a pen.Africa is getting rid of loss-making non-exporting public enterprises. Notice I said non-exporting. Ethiopia is a clear example of this success story, where all loss-making non-exporting public enterprises were privatised. The immediate impact was that the economy took off at a growth rate which was 8.1 per cent in 2017.Africa got on board with the telecoms revolution. In 2000, Africa had 11 million phone lines; today, it has over 800 million mobile lines, with a penetration rate of some 74 per cent. Kenya was a global trendsetter with a technology called mobile money. When the Americans were waking up to the payment of bills on smartphones, that technology was already 10 years old in Kenya by way of a platform called M-PESA (meaning money in Swahili). In Kenya, there was a mobile phone penetration of almost 80% by 2017, creating some half a billion dollars in “person-to-person” transactions.Africa is making a serious attempt to invest more in education, but the focus is on the people first, then buildings. The mission is to cultivate a cadre of teachers who are better remunerated and can own the system, rather than leave it to the politicians.Africa got serious at reducing conflicts. The African Union made it very clear that democracy must be respected, and this has resulted in some important democratic transitions happening across the continent.It is a human development wonder to observe the operations of African leaders like Paul Kagame from Rwanda. He understands the concept of human development, and is making some serious moves at empowering and enriching his people at the mass level, unlike David Granger.So what is Guyana doing wrong? That is for a follow-up letter.Regards,Sasenarine Singhlast_img read more