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…says private sector being given special preference
By Lisa Hamilton
Opposition Member of Parliament (MP) Dr. Karen Cummings told the House on Monday that the PPP/C’s 2021 Budget presented to the nation is “full of ironies and eye water” as she put forward her case that the Government is massively borrowing not to meet the nation’s need but its ulterior motives.
Dr. Cummings claimed that there is “massive expansion” of the open market operations of the Bank of Guyana under the guise of stimulating the economy by making it easy for individuals and businesses to borrow money. However, she said that the catch is that these individuals are largely the friends and associates of the PPP/C as opposed to those who need it most.
“The Banks do not give incentives. So, it is fair to conclude Mr. Speaker that the Banks are lending and will be lending to the PPP/C cronies and to the private sector who may be already rich in toxic assets and these toxic assets become illiquid when the secondary market for buying and selling then disappears. If this is the trajectory that the nation will follow, Guyana can see the devaluing of its currency with a possible economic crash,” she said.
In an interview with the Village Voice News in January 2021, Chief Executive Officer of Camex Restaurants Incorporated and an Entrepreneur for more than 30 years, Guyanese Businessman Terrence Campbell said that it is becoming increasingly evident that commercial banks in Guyana are discriminating against Afro-Guyanese, forcing them to pay interest rates significantly higher when compared to other ethnicities.
He said while there was always a suspicion that there was a disparity in the requirements set for Afro-Guyanese when compared to those set for Guyanese of other ethnicities in the provision of credit, recent documents emerging from the banking sector have confirmed this suspicion. “In recent times, I was able to accidentally see documents relating to the credit that has been granted to businessmen, who were obtaining loans from the same banks that I needed to obtain loans from, and their security was less, the security that they offered was less, and their interest rate was less as well,” Campbell told Village Voice News.
While Campbell had pointed out the issue of an interest rate disparity, at Parliament, Dr. Cummings spoke to the general challenges faced by Guyanese in the banking sector. She stressed that the environment was being intentionally fostered to keep some in and others out. Likewise, she claimed that Budget 2021 has not been designed to equitably benefit citizens of Guyana.
Dr. Cummings told the House: “The ironies put the country in a state of anxiety but the eye water exposes the depth of the Government’s callousness and reckless spending with little or no accountability. What the next Government of this country is saying, in short, Mr. Speaker, is that Budget 2021 is an economic bubble being created by the PPP/C Government and what has made this bubble incredible is the fact that it is blown from borrowed money,” she said. In comparison, she argued that the APNU+AFC spent prudently and its previous budgets did not discriminate based on race, heritage or political affiliation.