The stutter has halted, things are happening : Kaieteur News commentary

The stutter has halted, things are happening

November 1, 2015 | By | Filed Under Features / Columnists, My Column

For the past two months I have been hearing about a slowing down of the economy. The comment by politicians is that people are skeptical of the new government and therefore they are cutting back on investment.
That is not the only Doomsday prediction. The politicians on the other side say that rice is going to take a beating and that the rice farmers will have to eat their rice. Once more the politicians in the People’s Progressive Party are crowing that the government is killing the rice industry.

The truth is that none of these things are true. When I spoke with some business people they said that indeed, with the elections in the air they did slow down their imports. This was due to the legacy of violent elections in the past. They have not come to grips that since 2006 elections have been peaceful. 

At the same time some of the products that actually bring in money were stuttering. Gold price had plummeted so the economy had lost some of its momentum. Bauxite was already a low earner and sugar was not as lucrative and lumber which was under focus continued to bring less and less royalty.
Now all that is changing. There are two major gold companies in operation. These have already begun production and their volume will more than compensate for what the alluvial miners lost with their cutback in production. So gold is once more going to be the shining light.

At the same time, Christmas has always been the period when businesses make most of their profits. This year is going to be no different. Already one is seeing the effects of the investment in Christmas and the growth of the economy. When Bharrat Jagdeo said that people were not spending, not even to the point of buying cars at the same pace they did he knew what he was saying. People were not going to use the banks as they did.

And the reason was clear. There were those who feared being sacked by people who shared an opposing political view. However, a cursory examination would reveal that car sales have picked up. It still takes about a year for Guyana to sell 10,000 cars.

But it is more than people buying things and spending money on entertainment. It is about people seeking homes and as fate would have it they are still pursuing that goal.  But there are those private entities that are working their staff like slaves and paying them slave-like wages.  That is why things appeared to be slow because these people had hardly any money to spend.

But for the greater part any slowdown was there before the elections. The problem was that many people were not paying their dues to the government and using that money to give a false sense of affluence.
Just the other day, I noticed that people, who owed the government, were allowed to keep the money although the government department won the case in court. Three of them owed the national radio station some $11 million. This money found its way into the entertainment centres and gave the impression that things were so good.

However, there is much more to economic growth. It is about a better standard of life at the same time as we produce. There was a time when any casual observer would have realized that Guyana had fallen on hard times. People were not maintaining their homes so houses that once gleamed under a coat of paint looked rundown.
The vehicles on the road were old and they rattled along. Children were going to school with little in their lunch kits. There were the smugglers, who raked in money because legal imports were down. That changed.

Today there were the hiccups after the elections but precious little changed because people were upbeat. They kept spending so the economy held its own. Now that Christmas is around the corner the nation will see a boost in the economy. I saw the containers bringing in consumer items and I hear people talking about really enjoying this Christmas.

But what is around the corner? The government has been able to find markets in place of the one it lost in Venezuela. There has been no talk of price but from the look of things rice is set to bring in money once more. And this is happening even as oil prices are low. This means that there is money to do more things.
We cannot help but notice the expenditure on the cleanup campaign. A clean city does wonders because people feel uplifted and with that feeling there is always the case of people doing things that make economies grow. The strike in the sugar industry did not hurt too much. It did not slow down the upswing in the economy.

The government is going to do just that bit more to make things continue along that upswing. It is going to put some more money into the economy by actually giving people a pay rise.

And for all the talk about a slowing down of the economy I could not help but notice that the international airlines are falling over themselves to provide more flights to and from Guyana. Surely this does not signal a faltering economy. And to support the growing airline industry is the expansion of the Cheddi Jagan International Airport.
The immediate future sure does look good. At least it feels good.

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