GEORGETOWN, Guyana: In his recent address at the opening of the 10th Parliament, President Donald Ramotar assessed the nation’s economy and said that while Guyana is poised for growth, existing issues threatening to slow the economy must first be rectified.
Ramotar noted that the country’s economy was valued at US$2.261 billion in 2010, compared with US$317 million in 1991, while the per capita income had grown from US$304 to US$2,533 in 2010.
Private-sector loans also increased from GUY$7 billion to GUY$112 billion as interest rates slid from as high as 35 per cent to between five and 11 per cent.
“Without a doubt, our economy and country have come a far way from the time that our country was forced to enter an IMF agreement in 1989. At that time, our country was a Heavily Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) where almost nothing worked,” Ramotar said.
He added that the country’s external debt now stood at US$1 billion down from US$2.1 billion, while external reserves stand at US$780 million up from US$123 million.
Despite these improvements, Ramotar said that more reliable energy sources will be necessary to encourage a stronger modern economy while enhancing manufacturing and agro-processing and adding value to the country’s minerals.
The productive sectors, including sugar, rice, bauxite and agriculture, were also identified as being critical to development.
“Clearly, with the pressure on lands, food prices will rise, as is already happening,” Ramotar said. However, he added that bauxite companies operating in the country will provide jobs, especially with a mine expected to be constructed in the near future.