Government must create the conditions necessary for growth

Ever since the 2015 election, President Granger of the APNU/AFC coalition government has made a number of statements regarding the role of government in transforming the economy. These statements are contradictory. It is a manifestation that the government does not understand the role of the government in the economy. The position of the United Republican Party stands in sharp contradiction to the government’s position and how this government plans to stimulate the economy to create the “good life” for all Guyanese.

It is clear to the URP that the Granger government is oblivious to the economic needs of the Guyanese people. Consider the following statements and actions by the government since its ascension to office in May 2015. According to Granger, Guyanese should be self-employed or seek self-employment in order to improve their economic status and standard of living. However, the government has not laid out any major economic policy or plan that would create public confidence in the economy, nor has the government encourage Guyanese to take on private initiative that would lead them to become gainfully employed. Second, before the elections, rice farmers, who form a major backbone of the economy, were promised that they would receive $9000 per bag of paddie. Yet rice farmers today have not seen that reality materialize, as regional markets close their door to rice produced in Guyana. Third, the government has not made any serious attempt to find local buyers for their cash crop, despite the fact that many of these local farmers depend on available markets to sell their products. Local farmers are left on their own to secure markers, and as such, Guyana’s ability to exploit the Caribbean community as a potential market source has not materialize. While Guyanese continue to struggle, government ministers did not hesitate to give themselves a 50% increase in salary.

The URP, a political party which prides itself on support for economic liberalism and a market economy with limited government interference since its formation in March 1985, views these statements and government inaction with great alarm. Guyana needs a government that works for all Guyanese. The URP shares the ideological belief that individuals are best capable of establishing their own economic initiative, which in itself will serve as the engine of growth, when government create the necessary conditions for such growth to take place. We reject the idea that an economy will develop with total government intervention or that an economy can develop and thrive where government plays a central role in controlling the economy, as in a command economy. Although the URP believes that economic liberalism may lead to some government regulation to ensure equality, we believe that such interventions should be limited and tempered with caution. So, while the government or state does have a role in ensuring that all Guyanese are entitled to free and fair competition, it has a specific, but important role to play in our economic development.

The URP differs with the current policy of the government. The Guyanese people need the government to create the appropriate investment climate so that individuals can become the engine of growth. For instance, the government is responsible for securing a market abroad for farmers who produce cash crops or rice for sale. Businessmen are not equipped with the careful understanding of all the type of regulations that exist between Guyana and its regional partners, nor are they keenly aware of the trade policies that Guyana has established with its neighbors. It is therefore imperative for the Guyana government to create the business friendly environment (negotiating bilateral and multilateral agreements with neighboring countries, establish trade policies, educate local businessmen about trade policies with neighboring partners, etc) that can promote the economy.

Instead, what we are seeing in Guyana is a situation where a government is simply getting by with ad hoc trade policies. In such a climate, it is the business community that will continue to suffer. The URP calls on the current government to create the climate that is necessary for Guyanese businessmen to become the engine of growth.