Jagdeo maintains that there is a shortage in foreign currency
By Stacy Carmichael-James
Finance Minister Winston Jordan’s recent assurance that there is no shortage of foreign currency has been rejected by General Secretary of the People’s Progressive Party, Bharrat Jagdeo, who has called on the minister to be truthful regarding the matter.
“There is no foreign currency shortage and there may be a foreign currency shortage, so he is equivocating on that now. At one time they were clear about it and they said the economy will do well in the future without clearly stating how, so it’s a leap of faith for us to believe in him,” he noted at his recent press conference.
Jagdeo reasoned that if there is no foreign currency shortage then people should be able to go into the banks and buy as much money as they desire, once it is for legitimate purposes. According to him, that is not happening now, not even in small amounts. He said Minister Jordan should have looked at all the transactions over a period in order to arrive at an average at which the currency is bought and sold or to arrive at a “true rate.”
He called on the commercial banks to create a list of demands to take to the Central Bank and request currency to clear the queue. This, he said is premised on the Minister’s claim that none of the commercial banks has stated a shortage in foreign currency. Unless the Finance Minister explains the fundamentals in a technical fashion at the same time offering solutions, then the foreign exchange rate will keep sliding Jagdeo, who was a former Finance Minister contended.
“The predictions out there are unbelievable because most people I talk to who are in the know, they believe the rate will skyrocket to $250 or $300,” said Jagdeo.
Added to this, the PPP General Secretary said the state continues to borrow large sums of money from the local market, reasoning that when money is borrowed in Guyana dollars, the need for foreign currency increases owing to the import level.
However, Minister Jordan during a recent Jumpstart interview on 94.1 FM said quite the opposite, while noting that there were issues with foreign exchange but presently, the Central Bank has reserves in excess of some 600 million, which he noted is equivalent to that of Barbados.
“The issues of foreign exchange shortage are either contrived or as we have indicated some problems were in there, we tried to sort those out. The rate I heard is more or less stabilized …albeit depreciated currency, we were for a long time around $210 now we are ranging between $210 and $215,” Minister Jordan disclosed.
According to Jordan, more people are reporting that they are getting foreign currency when they go to the banks, but not in large sums, this he said is due to the fact that banks are enforcing that persons need to give reasons why they need the currency and then after a few days they get the currency.
Jordan expressed full confidence in the Bank of Guyana staff and the numbers presented as it relates to the reserves, noting that the Governor cannot “fudge” the numbers.
He is contending that if there is a genuine shortage then the commercial banks would approach the Central Bank for assistance.