We must borrow but do so judiciously – Min. Jordan

Govt will only seek funding for projects after all due diligence is to done to ensure value for money

By Paul Mc Adam

DPI, Guyana, Saturday, May 18, 2019

Minister of Finance, Winston Jordan says while it is necessary for Guyana to borrow internationally to fund its development, this must be done judiciously. The minister recently sat down with the Department of Public Information (DPI).

At its current developmental stage, Guyana is dependent on borrowing funds. Minister Jordan explained that all-weather roads, bridges, boats and health care facilities and more are just some of its “tremendous developmental needs” which can only be obtained via internationally sourced funding. However, the minister says borrowing to meet these needs must be done judiciously, in a fiscally responsible manner.

Due to our tremendous developmental needs, in the interim, we have to borrow, but we must borrow prudently, Minister Jordan emphasised, “with a judicious mix of productive and social needs”.

In the short term, loans must be taken for these purposes, but these have to be managed, targeted and based on real needs. He reminded of the PPP’s loan for the Cheddi Jagan International Airport’s (CJIA) rehabilitation, “We signed the loan and we didn’t have a project. It took 18 months to find what the project would look like. By that time, you don’t like what it looked like, but you’ve already paid out much money.”

Modern ferries for the Northwest District, a new Demerara River Bridge and the Ogle Bypass are some, to name a few, that will cost the government large sums of money. $10.5Billion (US$50M) was allocated under the previous administration to the aforementioned road, “without even a study… by the time the study was finished, the road is excess [$21Billion] US$100M and that is just going to Diamond and these are just simple developmental projects.”

Describing these as the “hard side”, Minister Jordan said on the “soft side” teachers, nurses, doctors and engineers have to be paid a “quality salary”. Symptomatic of the “Dutch Disease”, he indicated that many of the Ministry of Public Infrastructure’s engineers have opted to seek higher paying jobs in the Oil and Gas Sector. This sector, he noted, “is not waiting to find a wage balance but yet we don’t generate the sort of national income to pay salaries of the kind the people demand.”

The Coalition Government, the minister emphasised, will only seek funding for projects after all due diligence is to done to ensure value for money.

Paul Mc Adam.

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