Nadir refutes economic crisis allegation

Guyana Chronicle
February 21, 2003

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SEVERAL sectors of the economy have developed significantly over the last few years, Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce, Mr. Manzoor Nadir stressed Wednesday night while refuting allegations by the main Opposition People's National Congress Reform (PNC/R) that Guyana is facing an economic crisis.

Leader of the PNC/R, Mr. Robert Corbin had presented a motion in the National Assembly calling on the Government to do something to avert a "total collapse of the economy."

After hours of debate, which ended at 01:45 hrs yesterday, the motion was not approved.

During the debate Wednesday, Nadir pointed out that the PNC/R had used the bauxite, sugar and rice industries as examples to show that Guyana is in an economic crisis.

He argued that Mr. Corbin's motion was 11 years late because he should look back at the 1991 budget speech by the then Finance Minister in that PNC Government of that period.

He highlighted several investments and sectors that have shown positive growth and contributed significantly to the national economy.

He said the years 2001 and 2002 have shown positive growth in Guyana.

Dealing with the sugar industry, Nadir said that more than 300,000 tonnes of sugar are being produced by Guyana and rice production has also grown.

The minister pointed out too that more than $100M is being invested in a new sugar factory at Skeldon.

It was noted that the overall export of rice prior to 1992 was less than the amount of rice currently being exported to Jamaica alone.

"The Finance Minister of 1991 stated that there was a 30 per cent decline in the output of livestock. Today Guyana has one million pounds of locally produced chicken in excess of local consumption. And this economy is in crisis?" Nadir asked.

He added that over the last few months more than US$20M was invested in the poultry sector and as such, poultry today is vying for rice in terms of the contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

He pointed out that the poultry sector contributed five per cent to GDP last year.

The minister contended that there is a greater partnership between the private sector and the Government, which is because of confidence people have in the Government. He said the local people are investing in the various sectors of Guyana.

He urged members of the National Assembly to take a look at the several industrial sites around the country and they will see the number of new industries, adding that the Guyana Manufacturers Association is growing.

Nadir pointed out that the Chinese have invested about $10M into the Sanata Textile Company, observing that the factory is now capable of producing any design and quantity requested in about three hours.

The construction sector is moving ahead rapidly, he stressed, noting that there is a great demand for cement in Guyana.

He said about 800 slings of cement are needed daily, but ships unload only about 600 slings per day.

He said the information technology industry in Guyana is also moving forward with call centres, similar to one at Beterverwagting, East Coast Demerara, being established on the Corentyne as well.

Guyana is the fifth largest exporter of fish to the U.S. and more than US$33M has been invested in the fisheries sector over the last few years, Nadir said, adding that some Caribbean countries are using the infrastructure and systems of the fisheries sector in Guyana as a model to upgrade their fishing industry.

He further stated that information on the tourism, agriculture, the forestry sector and others could be obtained from the Guyana Office for Investment (GO-INVEST).

He said information shows that many sectors are moving ahead. The hotel industry is expanding, transportation cost to Lethem has reduced and the production of organic cocoa is improving each year.

The cocoa produced in Region One (Barima/Waini) is being used to make Duchy Original chocolate in Europe, he added.

A bus company has applied for a licence to establish a bus service from Georgetown to Lethem, he also reported.

Nadir added that a rice mill was established at Aishalton, Region Nine (Upper Essequibo/Upper Takutu) and the Heart of Palm project was growing rapidly.

Minister of Foreign Trade and International Cooperation, Mr. Clement Rohee, supporting Nadir's arguments, also rejected the notion that there is a crisis in Guyana.

He urged that the focus should be on finding solutions for the problems Guyana faces like any other developing country.

"We will not serve the Guyanese people well if we conclude that there is a crisis in Guyana, when in fact the people know what is the solution," Rohee contended.

He also observed that there has been a passionate call for the Government to accept executive power-sharing but the Administration has already presented its views on the issue. (GOVERNMENT INFORMATION AGENCY - GINA)

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