President reports: Economy has done well

By Mark Ramotar
Guyana Chronicle
December 29, 2006

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GUYANA’S economy has performed “exceedingly well” this year with a significantly higher growth in real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) than originally forecast and a reduction in the inflation rate, according to President Bharrat Jagdeo.

“I am very pleased with the overall (performance) of the economy in spite of the unbudgeted expenses on security and elections this year; we have met all our targets and I think, overall, it was a good year for our country and we now have to work towards ensuring 2007 would be even more rewarding,” the President told reporters.

Speaking at an end-of-year news conference at the Presidential Secretariat in Georgetown, Mr. Jagdeo said he is “very pleased” with the performance of the economy this year.

“Things went well, the real GDP growth is significantly higher than what we had forecasted, we have seen an increase in exports and an increase in central government revenue and a significant buildup of reserves – net foreign currency holdings in the central bank from last year to this year,” the Guyanese Head of State proudly declared.

“We have seen a growth in credit to the private sector which is a good signal that people are investing in the economy, and the inflation rate is low…,” he continued.

With regards to the inflation rate, the President said “we were targeting somewhere around 5% which is excellent especially coming down from last year, and this is a big achievement in light of what is happening around the world.”

Referring to the huge inflationary pressures in many parts of the world, Mr. Jagdeo said a lot of this inflation is “imported” to Guyana.

He noted that a lot of economies like Guyana are aligned to the US dollar, including a significant part of earnings, so when the US dollar fluctuates on the world market, the impacts are felt here in Guyana and in the other economies.

“When this happens, we see developments here in our local economy that we don’t have any policy controls over (and) that is why I am still pleased that in light of the weakening US dollar, that our inflation rate is below what we forecasted of five per cent at the end of the year,” he said.

The President did not give specific figures on the GDP, inflation and other growth areas since he said these are still being worked on.

He also thanked all those Guyanese who worked hard over the year and contributed to “what I consider a very successful outcome for the year.”

He recalled that 2006 started with many people being preoccupied with the general elections that were to be held later in the year.

“They were worried about our ability to successfully conduct those elections. They were worried based on historical precedents about the possibility of violence associated with the elections and many of them were concerned about the Guyana Elections Commission readiness to have free and fair elections.”

“I think all the parties worked very hard and with the significant support of the international community, we were able to successfully host those elections and basically in a manner that breaks the cycle of violence that traditionally has been associated with elections in general and regional elections in Guyana,” the President said.

On this note, he said “everyone should be commended” for the work they did in their respective areas to secure this particular outcome.

He also commended all the political parties that participated in the August 28 elections for the way they conducted their campaigns which was in a manner that was not inflammatory.

“They also stayed away from what our Constitution today prohibits – some of the things that have kept our country back for years - that is, the use of people’s race and religion to divide them or to secure their votes and we have managed to come through this elections campaign avoiding those reprehensible things,” he said.

The President also spoke about a number of other positive developments throughout the year, including Guyana’s honour of chairing the Board of Governors meeting of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

President Jagdeo also spoke extensively on the tremendous progress and the committed efforts that he, himself, has made in successfully lobbying for greater debt relief for Guyana.