Hoyte predicts deepening recession here
Guyana Chronicle
November 2, 2001

LEADER of the Opposition People's National Congress (PNC), Mr. Desmond Hoyte yesterday predicted that the current negative trends in the world economy will deepen the recession in Guyana.

He told a news conference at the party's Sophia, Georgetown headquarters, "Every sector in the economy is experiencing a sharp downturn and is in serious trouble."

He blamed some of the problems being faced locally on poor governance.

"The country has, for some time now been in the throes of an economic crisis. This has worsened severely, compounded as it is, by a crisis of governance...

"While the impact of some external forces cannot be denied, the fact remains that the situation has been exacerbated by stubborn mismanagement, corruption and incompetence," he charged.

Hoyte said that neither the economy nor the Government was being skillfully managed, and the country was in a state of drift.

While this was so, he said, the governing People's Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) "does not seem to understand the seriousness of the problem."

He said the Government denies that there is any problem at all, and has therefore not devised any game plan to deal with it, adding, "in any case, it is incapable of devising such a plan."

Hoyte told reporters the rice and forestry sectors were in a state of distress, "without any lifeline being thrown to them."

The sugar industry, he said, has forecast a $2.0 billion deficit for this year, signalling "It is going to be bigger."

The PNC leader said officials of the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) were "busy" touring sugar estates advising workers to return to, or establish cash crop farms, in anticipation of a loss or reduction of employment.

Referring to problems in the bauxite industry, he argued, "All of these problems derive from bad governance."

Essential elements of good governance are good faith and credibility, but unfortunately, these have been absent from the PPP/C administration, Hoyte said, noting that undertakings publicly given were not being fulfilled.

He expressed dismay that President Bharrat Jagdeo had promised an inquiry into the law revision printing contract which was given to a New York outfit and nothing has happened.

The Government said the contract was awarded without Cabinet permission and a probe was promised.

Hoyte also said that nothing had come out of the promised inquiry into the incidents on the Corentyne in August, resulting in the deaths of seven persons.

"Nothing has happened...the public is still waiting."

He said it was quite sad that the opportunities for improved governance were not being grasped, and were being allowed to slip away.

The Opposition Leader, who accepted an invitation from President Jagdeo for talks after the disturbances that followed the March elections, said the dialogue did raise some expectations but seemed to have lost momentum.

That dialogue, he told reporters, was in grave danger of being stymied by the actions and statements of some PPP/C functionaries who were apparently opposed to it, and obviously bent on challenging the authority of the President.

He claimed there were also persons who vainly believe they can drag out the process indefinitely to gain a political advantage of reducing tensions without improving the mechanisms for participatory democracy, and redressing real grievances in the society.

"These people are in for a rude awakening," he warned.

Hoyte said he hopes to speak nationally next week on the state and prospects of the dialogue about which many persons have been asking questions and expressing anxieties.