2.1% growth in economy – Finance Minister

DPI, Guyana, Friday, April 13, 2018

At his first 2018 media briefing, Finance Minister, Winston Jordan revealed that the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew by 2.1 percent for the 2016 to 2017 fiscal year. This lower than expected result occurred from less than initially projected sector performances.

“Sugar, that we had budgeted at 280,000 tons came in at only 137,307 tons. Rice did quite well. We had budgeted 600,000 tons rice and came in at 630,104 tons. Bauxite didn’t do quite well. We had budgeted 1,726,008 tons and came in at 1,459,223 tons,” the Minister explained.

Minister of Finance, Winston Jordan.

Minister Jordan added that gold’s performance as subpar. “Gold was a major disappointment, we budgeted at 694,000 ounces… gold came in at 653,674 ounces.”

He continued, “Forestry did reasonably well. The forestry sector is now showing signs of recovery after a lapse over the previous two years. Budgeted 318,000 cubic meters, forestry came in at 349,900 cubic meters.”

According to the Finance Minister, the economy has not changed much over the last five decades as it continually depended on the performances of one or two main products, which relied on the international prices paid for them.

“Our critical sectors have always depended on some ‘grandfather’ so to speak, and that grandfather being a protectionist market. In the case of sugar, as you know it was the ACP (African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States) Market. In the case of rice, literally the Venezuelan market. Prior to that, Trinidad was buying our rice at exceptional prices, when oil prices went up significantly…and that caused production to expand.”

Minister Jordan said that the Venezuelan market is ‘officially no longer available’ and therefore the rice industry initially showed some decline, however, markets in Mexico and Cuba are requesting as much rice as the country can supply. “In a short space of time [the rice sector] has been able to rebound…this year we’re looking at hopefully significant improvement. For the first crop already, you would’ve noticed in the papers, was good and this has been boosted by reasonably good prices and new markets.”

Minister Jordan added that fiscal revenues remained exceptionally buoyant and expenditure held in line. This has resulted in a deficit to GDP which is less than the previous fiscal year and slightly smaller than projected, which he explained that in any scenario is ‘good news’.

 

By: Nateshia Isaacs

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