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Khemraj is misrepresenting Guyana
June 20, 2009 | By knews | Filed Under Letters
I note Mr. Tarron Khemraj’s letter in the Kaieteur News on June 17, 2009 titled, ‘The nature of a donkey-cart economy.’
His critique of the Governmental initiative aimed at boosting development and growth in Guyana is dishonorable and only facilitates an injustice to Guyana and its people. I want Mr. Khemraj and his confederates to be more sensitive, and at least acknowledge the numerous accomplishments of our striving nation.
Yes, it is inevitable that there will be gaps within the development strategies of Guyana, but to completely ignore our developmental gains is disappointing. It is healthy to make critiques but it is dangerous to stain a young nation like Guyana with negative comments, especially when most of these comments are erroneous.
Guyana has come a long way since 1992 and has achieved a sound macroeconomic environment. Such an achievement will only open the doors to other opportunities, since it gives international organisations some level of satisfaction, making it easier to access loans and grants to continue development.
The sugar industry has recently subsided because Guyana has always been dependent on the European Union for preferential price arrangements; and the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) coerced Guyana into a 5% sugar cut, which is expected to increase to 36%. As a result, Government has developed a ‘turnaround’ plan to resuscitate the sugar industry.
In 1992, the inflation rate of Guyana was an astounding 101%; however, Guyana has now successfully managed to contain its inflation rate at 5.8%. Guyana also has reached a point where there is a reduction in its interest rates, balance of payments deficits, and has a stable exchange rate. These accomplishments can be criticised by the opposition, but the reality is, these accomplishments have opened new avenues to achieve sustainable development. Through strategic planning and policy making, Guyana has played its cards right and has managed to win the hearts of its international lending agencies, and so, more opportunities now exist.
Today, the fundamental principles of democracy and the best practices of Human Rights are restored to this nation. Per capita income is now US$1214.3 as compared to US$231 in 1991.
The decline of agriculture in the Caribbean coupled with the erratic global food prices and the growing food import bill led to the establishment of the Jagdeo Initiative on Agriculture in 1992. Today, agriculture is more than the production of food, it is a mechanism for job creation, it increases export earnings and the income of stakeholders, especially farmers, and explores opportunities for developing agro-businesses.
The Grow More Campaign in 2008 benefited farmers with the distribution of seed, planting materials and breeding stock, and so the livestock and other crop sectors grew by 7.4% and 7.7%, respectively.
In 2008, the mining and quarrying sector recorded a 6.1% growth, the bauxite industry grew by 22.8% in the first half of 2008 and gold production increased. However, the manufacturing sector output varied, products such as rum, other beverages, and paints increased but the production of flour decreased.
Last year, Guyana’s growth rate was 3%, and according to the Bank of Guyana’s Half Year Report 2008, the overall balance of payments at the end of June progressed to a surplus of US$47.6 million from a deficit of US$12.3 million for the corresponding period in year 2007.
With increased trade, the total transactions on the foreign exchange market continued to grow and the key monetary aggregates grew with increased economic activity.
Today, Guyana’s infant mortality rate is 30.43 deaths per 1,000 live births, compared to 120 deaths per 1,000 live births in 1991. Maternal mortality rate has decreased by 1.3% over the last 13 years. The immunization rate in children increased to 95% compared to 65% in 1991.
Guyanese now benefit from the increase of housing and water access; infrastructural works serviced 2,965 house lots in housing schemes such as Cummings Lodge, Orderneeming, Plantation, Goedverwagting, Farm, Hope/Lowlands, Speightland, Westminster and Bath. In addition, 2,366 lots were allocated and 2,434 land titles processed in 2008. The investment to improve access to housing, potable water, electricity, education and health care to the people of Guyana is vital; for this reason, Government will continue to expand the housing sector to ensure that all Guyanese own their own home.
In the 1980s and 1990s our nation experienced a loss of trained teachers which resulted in poor teaching quality and limited access to a solid education. However, efforts to spend more in the education sector resulted in the improvement of CXC performance; and also the enrollment of students to secondary schools increased to 76% compared to only 35% in 1991.
It is easy to paint Guyana with a negative brush, especially, when the critic is guilty of lying in a bed of roses. The fact is that Guyana is a poor country and misrepresenting its economic gains will only hurt the nation, and the efforts of the people to make Guyana a better place for all.