Thursday, December 14, 2017

PM should do more to stimulate economy

Madame Prime Minister, we need your intervention!

Our economy is slowly grinding to a halt and we need your intervention to change this trajectory. Let's examine the facts— everyone said after the budget was passed in 2010, and again in 2011, things would start moving again. Even the IMF advisers approved a US$1.3 billion loan for Winston Dookeran to spend on projects to get the economy moving. Did anyone see any new projects other than the South highway start in 2011?

Toward the last quarter of 2011, we had both the president of the Chamber of Commerce and the president of the Manufacturers Association complaining about the lack of stimulation of the economy. We keep hearing the mantra from the Finance Minister that we have no funds available for this, but why did the Central Bank Governor ask how come the Current Account showed a surplus $2 billion instead of the $7 billion deficit we were supposed to be posting? The implication was: there were funds to invest in capital projects, which was not done! Even Mr Dookeran embarrassingly admitted in Parliament in January that he indeed had a $2 billion surplus... the Central Bank Governor was right.

The brutal fact is we had negative growth in 2011... guess who got screwed? Ask the 25,000 construction workers who lost their jobs during this period.

Here we are in 2012, once again the budget was approved, with even an addendum of a further $3 billion tacked on... will this be déjà-vu?

Already a no-confidence motion was brought up in Parliament, with a major part of the reason being the weakness of our economy. To make matters worse, ask some of the 200 contractors who have had their vehicles and businesses re-possessed due to Education Facilities Co Ltd (EFCL)'s non-payment of their invoices (valued roughly at $170 million) for work done, but not paid for. Don't forget the ripple effect this has on the construction employees and their families, hardwares and others who these contractors have not been able to pay.

Madame Prime Minister, the fastest way to stimulate any economy is via construction. You should chair the Project Implementation Committee, where meetings are held on a weekly basis, to fast-track these projects. Alternatively, I would re-assign Mr Dookeran to another ministry and appoint Vasant Barath Finance Minister. This man knows how to get things done.

My comments here are not meant to embarrass anyone, but are made out love for my country and with a genuine concern to help get our country back on a vibrant development path once again. If nothing is changed, we will end up with negative growth once again, with all the unnecessary human suffering and tragedy which goes hand-in-hand with non-action.

RDA Gordon