Gold production “major disappointment”; Guyana records low growth rate

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Guyana recorded a growth rate of 2.1 percent at the end of 2017.

“The economy did not perform as robust as we expected during last year…at the end of the day it turned out to be worst than we expected,” Minister of Finance, Winston Jordan told reporters at a press conference on Friday.

The rate is a .8 percent shortfall from the revised projection of 2.9 percent. The overall growth rate for 2017 was projected at 3.8 percent.

By mid-year, an economic growth rate of 2.2 percent was achieved and that was revised to 3.1 percent but this was further reduced to 2.9 percent when this year’s budget was presented in December.

The 2017 year-end report was prepared and submitted to Cabinet at its Tuesday, April 3 meeting and will be laid in the National Assembly on April 26.

Some of the largest sectors which have contributed most to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) over the years; sugar, bauxite and gold, were named as the reason for the shortfall, Jordan said.

Minister of Finance, Winston Jordan

The Minister said the gold sector was “a major disappointment”. Gold production came in at 694,000 ounces as opposed to the 653,674 ounces projected.

At a press conference last year, Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman had reported that the measures implemented in the Government’s 2017 Budget resulted in gold production falling short.

The Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association (GGDMA) in 2017 raised concerns about the increase of the Tributors Tax from 10 percent to 20 percent, the need to keep records in interior locations where receipts and bills are often not obtained and the Application of Threshold to Tributors among others.

However, having reversed those measures in the 2018 budget, the Ministry of Natural Resources expressed hope that this year’s production will meet 800,000 ounces.

Jordan on Friday said the sugar sector saw a production of 137, 307 tonnes as opposed to the initially projected 208,000 tonnes. During the presentation of the 2018 National Budget, sugar was projected to decline to 152,000 tonnes in 2017, a 17.2 percent reduction compared to 2016‘s output.

Bauxite production amounted to 1,459,223 tonnes as opposed to the 1,726,008 tonnes projected.

However, as it relates to the fiscal areas, the Minister said revenues remain exceptionally buoyant. “Expenditure has been held in line and therefore there has been a deficit to GDP that was slightly smaller than we projected which is, of course, in any scenario, good news.”

Despite the growth rate, Jordan said the government is looking at significant improvements this year. He premised this outlook on the rice sector which according to recent reports, has seen higher yields.

Rice production for 2017 amounted to 630,104 tonnes, topping the 600,000 tonnes predicted.

The Minister said the forestry sector “is now showing signs of a recovery after a lapse over the previous two years.” Forestry came in at 349,900 cubic meters. This is more than the 297,070 cubic metres projected in the 2018 national budget.

As it relates to the government’s corporations, the Finance Minister related that entities such as GuyOil, the National Newspapers limited and the Guyana Power and Light, there were no great successes.

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