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The recent World Bank Report, particularly in the area of human development, provided statistical data that shows although Guyana is among the world’s fastest growing economies, development of the vast majority of people have not kept pace with the extraordinary rate the economy is expanding.
As dire as the report is, the Bank also pointed out that where the “economy is expanding at an extraordinary rate, fueled primarily by the expansion of oil output and is expected to remain one of the world’s fastest-growing economies in the medium term…. increasing oil and gas revenues will allow financing of significant budget outlays to address development needs and tackle poverty.”
The A Partnership for National Unity and Alliance for Change’s (APNU+AFC) reaction to the report follows: –
The World Bank Factsheet also noted that the focus must not only be on government spending, but on making real improvements to people’s quality of life.
The World Bank report reminds us that Guyana still ranks very low on several quality-of-life indices. Whether in education, health and well-being, or food sufficiency, the Guyanese people are worse off than even the Latin America and Caribbean counterparts. Our infant mortality and life expectancy rates, for instance, are among the lowest. Educational attainment among school-goers is well below par. The other indices are just as bad.
APNU+AFC is persuaded that the narrative in discussing development in Guyana must change. We need to shift the narrative from merely talking about government budgets and programs and projects. Instead, we must now discuss how exactly these efforts and expenditures are actually improving our lives — how are they making us healthier, better educated, safer, more prosperous, and happier? Government’s programs are not. They are structured to facilitate corruption. As a consequence, life in Guyana is worse under the PPP.
Already, we have seen where, despite the PPP announcing that the 2022 budget is the biggest-ever and the first to be funded by oil revenues, poverty and deprivation have increased. Cost of living has soared. The kitchen cupboard is emptier. Hopelessness and uncertainty pervade our homes and the land. Where are the impacts on the lives of ordinary people of this vast expenditure?
Likely, we will soon hear that next year’s national budget in 2023 will be even bigger, with increased allocations for health, education, infrastructure, and so on. But will Guyanese (both on the coast and the hinterland) experience real improvements in the quality of their lives? Hardly likely, given the PPP’s incompetence and corruption.
In the APNU+AFC’s people-centered national development strategy, we will focus not only on expenditures, but also about improving the quality of life of citizens and their families, as measured by objective indices and indicators.
Yes, while we appreciate that it is politically safer for a government to speak of its expenditures or inputs rather than on impacts or outcomes, we are willing to make concrete pledges to the Guyanese people on the real improvements they will see in their living standards. Therefore, in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals, we will set specific targets with specific deadlines, such as ending poverty and hunger, and guaranteeing quality education, good health and well-being.