GEORGETOWN, Guyana – Guyana recorded a 2.1 per cent economic growth last year but Finance Minister Winston Jordan has expressed a slight disappointment in the figures.
“The outturn had been a deficit in GDP (gross domestic product) that was slightly smaller than projected… in any scenario it is good news,” Jordan told reporters Friday.
Guyana’s economy is nonetheless targeted to grow by 3.8 per cent this year, the same figure that had been projected in 2017, but not achieved.
When he presented the 2018 national budget last December, Jordan had indicated that Guyana had failed to meet a revised growth rate and had only achieved a minimal growth of 2.9 per cent.
He told reporters that the rice sector did quite well, producing over 630,000 tonnes while sugar and bauxite did not do “so well.”
Jordan said gold was a major disappointment with just over 653,000 ounces being declared while forestry did reasonably well, showing signs of recovery after a lapse over the last two years.
But he said in the fiscal area, the country did exceptionally well with revenues remaining buoyant and the debt continues to be managed prudently.
Meanwhile, Jordan said that Guyana would be spending US$20 million as it seeks to get its share of the earnings from the oil industry.
“Unless we can get processes, legislation, bodies and monies all coming together, it will be a difficult proposition trying to match our wits with a giant like ExxonMobil,” he said, noting that the funds being provided by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) would be spent on crafting new legislation for the Sovereign Wealth Fund as well as establishing and strengthening new departments and units at the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) among other stakeholders.
“We are going to try to get experts to set up these critical units,” he told reporters, adding that whether or not the Production Sharing Agreement with the Us oil giant, ExxonMobil, is a good deal, the country would for the first time receive unprecedented amounts of cash.
“There is going to come to Guyana a significant sum of money unheard of in the history of Guyana,” he said, noting that the US$18 million ExxonMobil signing bonus, which was initially deposited in the Bank of Guyana, has been transferred overseas to an interest-bearing account.
“If it stays here, it will sit down doing nothing. It can’t earn interest if it stays here so it’s in matured US treasury bills, Canada bonds…,” he said.
Oil production is due to begin here in 2020. – CMC