Guyana has one of the Highest Mother and Child Death Rates in Latin America and the Caribbean, Mostly from Preventable Causes

Guyana continues to experience one of the highest mother and child death rates in Latin American and the Caribbean, despite economic growth and larger government spending. Insufficient public investment in the healthcare sector and the resulting poor quality of services and lack of access to needed care leads to many preventable deaths. Fortunately, there are common sense policies the government can adopt to significantly improve access to and the quality of services needed to keep mothers and children alive.

Budget Overview: The Real Winners and Losers of the 2018 Budget

Regrettably, the only winner of the 2018 budget is the government, not the hard working Guyanese families struggling to make ends meet, agriculture and low-skilled workers searching for good paying jobs to support their families, or small businesses struggling to make payroll. The growing cost of government administration consumes significant amount of resources that could be better use to benefit families and businesses. Despite increasing total spending, the budget cuts funding for critical sectors and is unlikely to stimulate job creation and economic growth.

Rethinking How We Invest Public Finance: What Should Guyanese Expect in the 2018 Budget?

While there is no way of knowing what the government priorities are until the budget is presented, it is important to reflect on the state of the economy and more importantly the policy and budget decisions of the 2017 budget that contributed to the current economic distress. Despite record level government spending, the economy remained in peril with high-risked growth, high unemployment, severe poverty, rising crime, and low consumer confidence as funding for key sectors were diverted to a growing appetite of the government administration costs. Fortunately, there are common sense policies the government can take to boost the economy and promote widespread economic prosperity.

Government’s Budget for 2017 Focuses on the Wrong Priorities and is Unlikely to Spur Economic Growth

Despite the increase in expenditures, the budget makes it more difficult for low-income families to overcome poverty and achieve economic independence. Changes in the country’s tax laws shift more of the tax burden to households and disproportionately burden low-income families. Current expenditures alone consume all general revenues, limiting the sources of funding for major investment to grants and new debts. These findings raise key questions as to whether current allocations represent the best use of public funds and the implications of the current allocations and spending levels on future budget decisions.

Poverty Facts: Almost 4 in 10 Guyanese Cannot Afford Basic Costs of Living

The level of poverty and associated levels of malnourishment will have dire consequences on the future health of the population and the potential for future economic growth in Guyana unless immediate steps are taken to address these issues. More than 36 percent of Guyanese or almost 4 in 10 people are living in poverty i.e. surviving on an income of U$1.75 per day or G$10,494 per month.

Guyana Ratings on Gender Equality and Social Cohesion Declined, World Bank Data Shows

The experience of countries around the world shows that closing the gender gap and reducing inequality results in better social and economic outcomes, and promotes widespread prosperity. Unfortunately, in Guyana, there is a reversal of progress made in these policy priorities, according to according to recently released data by the World Bank. This is likely a contributing factor to the country’s current social and economic problems.

Guyana: Finding Oil and Real Prosperity Are Not the Same, Note the Differences and Beware of the Dangers.

The discovery of oil and the potentials for economic growth and improved standard of living are good news for Guyanese families, workers, and businesses. However, the benefits of oil wealth do not automatically flow from the state’s treasury to families, businesses, and the economy. Like oil companies which have to assembly rigs, refineries, transportation, and distribution systems to move oil from the earth to the pump, so too must the government take necessary steps to ensure oil wealth flows from the state treasury to the kitchen tables of families, pocket books of small businesses and grow the economy.

Less Than 18 Percent of Government Transfers to the Regions is for Supporting Agriculture and Infrastructure – Key Economic Sectors

The failure to adequately invest in key sectors of the economy limits economic growth and is likely to further exacerbate current economic uncertainty and prime the economy for a downward spiral. The government’s budget for 2017 includes fiscal transfers to the 10 Administrative Regions totaling more than $35 billion. Of this total, less than 18 percent is allocated for supporting the agriculture sector and for building and repairing critical infrastructures necessary for creating a strong economic foundation for sustained growth.

Fiscal Health: Government’s Budget for 2017 Puts Additional Burden on Households and Future Budgets on an Uncertain Path

Despite the increase in expenditures, the budget makes it more difficult for low-income families to overcome poverty and achieve economic independence. Changes in the country’s tax laws shift more of the tax burden to households and disproportionately burden low-income families. Current expenditures alone consume all general revenues, limiting the sources of funding for major investment to grants and new debts. These findings raise key questions as to whether current allocations represent the best use of public funds and the implications of the current allocations and spending levels on future budget decisions.

Guyana has the 5th Highest Unemployment Rate Among CARICOM Member States

An unemployment rate of 11.4 percent represents a sizable portion of the labour force without the opportunity to pursue their own economic prosperity and contribute to the creation of wealth in the economy. Lawmakers concerned about improving the economic and social well-being of families and economic growth should adopt policies that would stimulate the economy, encourage private investments and create job good paying jobs.