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Guyana: Finance Minister stands by earlier statements on “drug fuelled” economy

By CMC

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Finance Minister Winston Jordan speaking to reporters

(CMC) – Finance Minister Winston Jordan Wednesday maintained that the Guyana economy was partly fuelled by drugs under the previous administration and brushed aside a request by a leading private sector group to provide evidence of the allegation.

Jordan, speaking at a news conference here, made reference to the request from the Private Sector Commission (PSC) for him to provide it with the evidence indicating that the local economy was partly fuelled by drugs money under the last government.

He told reporters that there were two studies presented by Economics Professor Clive Thomas which pointed to the impact of drug money on the Guyanese economy pre-2015.

“I will tell you this much, where the economy is today is proof positive that the economy was being run by drugs, by significant input from drugs”, Jordan said, adding that when he made his statement in a letter toa local newspaper recently, he did not refer to any private sector body.

“Now if as Bob says who the cap fit, then that’s fine,” he said, adding that his statement was specific to some in the private sector who benefited from nefarious activities.

“I was amazed to be quite honest when I got a letter from that gentleman asking me to provide proof to the private sector. I was amazed”.

Jordan said that he is busy preparing the national budget and other activities of his Ministry and therefore does not have the time to waste on the request from the PSC.

Jordan told reporters that with at least US$300 million being projected for the government’s coffers from ExxonMobil’s LIZA One well during the first year, there will many expected improvements.

“There will be improvements in the cultural, social and economic areas,” he said, referring to the expected revenues from initial oil production in 2020.

But he cautioned that funds will be spent carefully and in accordance with proposed legislation intended to govern the use of the Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF).

This legislation is being finalized by the Ministry of Legal Affairs, with assistance from stakeholders from Commonwealth, Caribbean Development Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank.

Jordon told reporters that the expected funds will be kept in the SWF, then transferred to the Consolidated Fund, before it can be utilized.

He said one area being considered for improvements is the pensions of former managers and other government officials who, as a result of currency devaluations and other factors, receive a basic minimum pension.

Guyana is projecting commercial production of its oil sector by 2020 and according to the government, other areas of priority include infrastructural development, and agriculture, housing and manufacturing sectors.

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