Steadily expanding growth expected after ‘first oil’ – Min Jordan

– Guyana will move to a higher standard of living, given expected income

DPI, Guyana, Saturday August 10, 2019

With prudent management of the economy fueling its growth, Minister of Finance, Hon. Winston Jordan predicts that all will benefit from an expected GDP of 4.5% by the end of 2019.

Interviewed on the National Communication’s Network’s ‘Insight’ Programme on Voice of Guyana, the minister reminded of the nation’s stable and expanding economy. He noted that all indicators point towards the above-mentioned growth, with the best economic performance since 2014.

“At the half-year mark, we have already grown by 4%… that is significant from this standpoint and the outlook, contrary to what others have been peddling, is extremely bright.”

Minister Jordan recalled that the local economy was previously buoyed by what His Excellency, President David Granger often termed as the ‘six sisters’. That is, sugar, rice, gold, bauxite, fishing, timber. “This economy has often been dragged along by any combination of those and many of them have experienced difficulties over a number of years,” he said.

The minister noted that with the advent of ‘first oil’ imminent, many associated “significant activities” are already creating benefits and driving economic growth.

“Luckily for us, we have oil coming on stream when these ‘sisters’ have been weary. These need a rest and we need to provide the inputs to retool them,” Minister Jordan remarked.

Reflecting on the increased revenues, he noted:

“All the increased road works, houses that are being built, wells being dug in places where people have never seen potable water before – in the hinterland and other areas. Electricity where people never had before. Street lights and all these things… Now we can do these things because our revenue profile has gone up sharply.”

Minister Jordan stated, “I would like to tell the population that they can look forward with confidence, to a growing economy in which they expect ever-increasing benefits.”

Touching on the subject of education, he opined that once the means are available, “We should be able to give that access in terms of quality education and the ability of the persons. For example, if you’re coming from a poor household, it is not only the fact that you could go to UG free but also you have the other factors to consider… while it means the tuition is free, it doesn’t mean the travel is free, the clothes that you have to wear and so forth are free.  So, to make education free and meaningful we also have to look at those other aspects.”

Part of the Coalition Government’s thinking, the finance minister indicated, was how to increase the income for the poor and vulnerable in society. Recalling the debate about “Cash Transfers” from oil and GAS, he said that the administration has not been “dissuaded from looking at conditional cash transfers”. This would see money being disbursed for various aspects such as vouchers for education, health, the disabled, the aged i:e pensions that are significantly increased, “dramatic” public servants’ pensions, increased public servants salaries and benefits, better housing and facilities, he explained.

Minister Jordan further explained that these benefits will not suddenly be realised by March of 2020 or ‘first oil’.

“Elections are in five-year cycles. What we are trying to do, we have a Vision 2040 in the Green State Development Strategy, that we want to flesh out and then put to the populace. Our vision for the next five years, what we intend to achieve in that next five years. We do not want to leave the populace with the impression that within the next five years, Guyana will be the Dubai of the Caribbean or the Manhattan, but what I can tell you is, we will progressively move to a higher standard of living, given the income that is expected,” the Finance Minister assured.