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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

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Embed gender issues in national development plan…
-PS tells OAS labour workshop

The need to move from equal opportunity to gender mainstreaming must be clearly articulated and embedded in national development policies according to Permanent Secretary within the Labour Ministry, Trevor Thomas.
Thomas, who is chairing the three-day workshop on Strategic Planning with a Gender Perspective, stated that development in accordance with international policies translates into a sustained improvement in the wellbeing of individuals and benefits to all.
He said the workshop is relevant since women comprise more than half of the human resources and are central to the economic and social wellbeing of societies.
“Women in development, is a holistic concept, where goals can never be fully reached without their participation,” Thomas noted.

Permanent Secretary Trevor Thomas addressing the workshop on Gender Mainstreaming organised by the Organisation of American States (OAS) and held at Pegasus Hotel. April 13, 2010. (GINA/Kwasie Wishart Photo)

The PS added that women must therefore, have both the legal right and access to the existing means for the improvement of themselves and society.
Thomas related that gender issues can no longer be neglected but must be discussed towards ensuring equity, equality and perspective in the workplace.
“We must use this knowledge and determination to incorporate issues of gender in our strategic planning.”
            During her presentation, Commissioner of the Women and Gender Equality Indranie Chandarpal pointed out that Caribbean governments have made much progress in the advancement of gender mainstreaming.


Commissioner of the Women and Gender Equality, Indranie Chandarpal during her presentation at the three-day workshop on Strategic Planning with a Gender Perspective held at Pegasus Hotel. April 13, 2010. (GINA/Kwasie Wishart Photo)

However, there are still many challenges to overcome in promoting vibrant and visible actions to give effect to gender perspectives in policies and programme, she said. 
            Chandarpal noted that strategic planning with a gender perspective is intended to strengthen institutional capacity of member states in gender mainstreaming programmes in order to achieve decent work.
“While there are many challenges we must not allow them to overwhelm us. We need to strive to ensure that the best practices which exist in member states are adopted by the Ministries of Labour and to work towards stronger collaboration between labour and the government,” the Commissioner said.
She expressed confidence that the workshop will serve to inspire policymakers to carry out their responsibilities in ensuring that the decision taken are implemented as far as is practical and make a lasting contribution to the ongoing process of gender mainstreaming in the Caribbean.      
The workshop which is organised by the Organisation of American States (OAS), Inter-American Commission on Women (CIM), Ministry of Labour, CARICOM and the International Labour Organisation (ILO), began on April 12 and is expected to conclude April 14.

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Inspectors lectured on food inspection techniques
-Health Ministry’s Food and Drug Department hosts three-day workshop

Food inspectors from various departments and regions gathered today at the Regency Hotel, Hadfield Street at a workshop organised by the Ministry of Health, Government Analyst-Food and Drug Department with the aim of improving skills and techniques in food inspection.
            The workshop is being conducted from April 13 to 15. It will further provide inspectors with new knowledge, skills and methodologies for regulatory and enforcement activities.
            Deputy Director, Food and Drug Department, Jewel Sears who declared the workshop opened, told participants that training is an important tool for professional and personal development of valuable human resource and an integral concept for national development.
            She highlighted that the importance of inspections cannot be underscored as they ensure the safety, soundness and quality of mass produced food.
             Sears urged the participants to make maximum use of the training, to impart knowledge that would be gained in their respective inspection programme.
            Director, Food and Drug Department, Marilyn Collins while providing an overview of the philosophy and approach to food safety noted that food inspectors are tasked with the responsibility to control and play an important role in public health.
            “Sometimes as inspectors we tend to belittle the role that we have to play but when we look at food safety and the impact that it can have on human lives, the debilitating effects on food safety on consumers as a whole we can begin to appreciate the role of an inspector in protecting the health and well-being of consumers,” Collins told the participants.


Inspectors at the Ministry of Health’s Food and Drug Department workshop

            The Director underscored that within the food safety there are various pieces of legislation that determine inspectors’ area of activity.
            Many food borne illnesses are transmitted based on the practices of the food handler, Collins said.
            “The focus for us inspectors should be on hygiene education and food handling practices rather than providing a food handlers’ card that is based on medical examination and as inspectors we have to be able to analyse the food chain,” Collins asserted.
            The Director pointed out that one of the major objectives of inspectors is to protect the health and well-being of consumers through a science based approach by identifying risks and finding ways to address those risks.
            In addition, she told them that as inspectors they also contribute to national development and to the country’s economy by ensuring that there is confidence in the food chain.
            “As inspectors we also have the responsibility to enhance trade in Guyana…by being very effective and efficient in our inspection programme,” she stated.
             Collins expressed the hope that at the end of the programme participants would have gained greater self-confidence and would be able to make contributions to national development by supporting competitiveness of the country’s industries and trade.
            Meanwhile, Principal Environmental Health Officer, Joycelyn Edinboro who highlighted some of the food concerns in the country said that consumers are practical people and that they expect safe food.
            She stated that an inspector’s job entails prevention and ensuring that foods that are provided are safe.
            The workshop will also entail interactive sessions and presentations on the role of food inspectors, complaints and recalls, sanitation and hygiene, product labelling, packaging, general requirements for meat inspection-techniques and facilities, inspection of fish and seafood processing, pharmacies, drug stores and legal obligations of food inspectors.

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Landscape transformation continues at Diamond
- Guyoil service station opens for business

The Guyoil service station at Diamond, one of the distinguishing features of the rapidly developing community on the East Bank of Demerara, opened its doors to motor vehicle operators on Wednesday.
The gas station located obliquely opposite the East Bank Demerara Regional Hospital and adjacent to the Guyana Bank for Trade and Industry which is under construction is also built to house a convenience store.

The Government Information Agency (GINA) today visited the service station and spoke with motor vehicle operators and other commuters who felt that the establishment will significantly reduce the length of time and distance taken to procure fuel, particularly for people in the Diamond/Grove area.
Salesman Farouk Khan said, “It’s going to save us because we got to go to Providence and Friendship for kerosene and fuel, which is quite a distance. Now we can stay right here and get our fuel.”
Others who traverse the area on a daily basis shared similar sentiments. They consider it a great achievement for the East Bank of Demerara.


The newly opened GUYOIL Gas Station at Diamond on the East Bank of Demerara

The Guyoil Service Station joins the list of reputable landmarks in the community. Among these are the East Bank Demerara Regional Hospital, the Guyana Bank for Trade and Industry (GBTI), under construction, a modern police station and the Diamond Secondary School.
The Diamond/Grove housing scheme benefited from in excess of $2B, fifty percent of which was invested by Government to propel development in the area in terms of roads, drainage, culverts, bridges and a water supply system.
Included in the list is a paved corridor to promote traffic safety and a pedestrian crossing along with a pedestrian walkway and a bus shed. Traffic lights were also erected to promote road safety.
Diamond boasts an occupancy rate of over 40,000 residents and is regarded as one of the largest emerging urban centres.

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Pharmaceuticals storage and inventory to be improved

The Ministry of Health plans to spend $60M on the construction of more storage facilities for its drugs and medical supplies.
           Over the years the storage of medical supplies and drugs to internationally accepted standards has been a challenge, but the ministry has been working assiduously to address the issue. 
          “Initially our aging facility in Kingston, and previously described as the bond or the drug bond, we have significantly improved the standards there,” Minister within the Ministry of Health Dr. Bheri Ramsaran told the Government Information Agency (GINA). 
              The Ministry operates an efficient modern state-of-the-art warehouse facility at Farm on the East Bank Demerara where the temperature is being controlled for the proper storage of drugs and a computerized inventory system is in place for better management of drugs distribution.
               Minister Ramsaran said that the health sector has achieved a lot in terms of proper storage and management of supplies but because of the demands of the expanding health sector; more hospitals and more sophistication on the part of the clientele, the Ministry is determined to do better as far as storage and inventory of its supplies are concerned.
               “The administration is investing the monies allocated in the budget for the extension of this service to cater for the expanding health sector system,” Minister Ramsaran said.
                He added that the Ministry has already commenced work on a plot of land allocated in the Diamond housing scheme for the construction of another state-of- the-art facility similar to the one at Farm, East Bank Demerara.  
                The additional facility will have a computerized and centralized management inventory system, where the temperature and climate conditions for proper storage of medical supplies will be fully controlled, Minister Ramsaran said.  
               A bridge is being constructed to facilitate access to the plot of land in the Diamond housing scheme. 
              “So that is the aim and this is not to say that it’s the first step that the ministry or government is taking today, it started since our inception in office in 1992 from $100M on medical supplies to over $2B today,” Minister Ramsaran.
                Government this year will be spending $2.7B for the procurement of drugs and medical supplies for the public health care system.      

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IMF Executive Board Concludes 2009 Article IV Consultation with Guyana

Public Information Notice (PIN) No. 10/48
April 13, 2010


Public Information Notices (PINs) form part of the IMF's efforts to promote transparency of the IMF's views and analysis of economic developments and policies. With the consent of the country (or countries) concerned, PINs are issued after Executive Board discussions of Article IV consultations with member countries, of its surveillance of developments at the regional level, of post-program monitoring, and of ex post assessments of member countries with longer-term program engagements. PINs are also issued after Executive Board discussions of general policy matters, unless otherwise decided by the Executive Board in a particular case.

On March 17, 2010, the Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) concluded the Article IV consultation with Guyana.1

Background
Guyana has weathered the impact of the global crisis well by regional and global standards. Newly released GDP series (re-based to 2006 prices) suggest that economic activity expanded by 3.3 percent in 2009, compared to 2 percent in 2008, largely on the back of a recovery in agriculture in the second half of the year along with continued strong gold production and robust activity in the non-tradable sector. This mitigated the adverse impact of global and weather shocks on output in early 2009. End-year inflation fell to 3.6 percent from 6.4 percent as of end-2008, reflecting the softening in world commodity prices.
In 2009, the external current account deficit narrowed, and the international reserve position strengthened significantly. The current account deficit declined by 5 percent of GDP (to 8.5 percent of GDP), largely led by a reduction in imports, particularly of fuel. This, together with strong official inflows (including concessional loans and grants, and the Fund’s Special Drawing Rights allocation) and steady short-term capital inflows by commercial banks—attracted to higher domestic interest rates—helped offset a decline in Foreign Direct Investment and raised Guyana’s gross international reserves to US$623 million by end-year (over 5 months of imports). The nominal exchange rate remained stable, and the real effective exchange rate is assessed to be broadly in equilibrium. The impact of the crisis on the financial sector has been limited so far, although expansion in private sector credit has moderated to about 6 percent in 2009 (down from nearly 22 percent in 2008), reflecting both a deceleration in private sector credit demand, as well as tighter lending standards by the banking sector.
Macroeconomic policies have remained prudent. Monetary policy tightened somewhat in 2009, supporting the decline in inflation and external stability. The fiscal deficit for the non-financial public sector declined to 3.3 percent of GDP (equivalent to 5.3 percent of old GDP) from 4.7 percent of GDP in 2008, on the back of higher-than expected revenues that supported the full execution of priority spending, including on infrastructure. Guyana’s public debt has fallen from 93.1 percent of GDP as of end-2006 to 56.8 percent of GDP in 2009, assisted by debt relief operations and fiscal consolidation efforts.
Structural reform has continued to focus on further reducing vulnerabilities and entrenching long term growth. On the financial sector, the authorities have consolidated insurance and bank supervision at the central bank, incorporated risk-based supervision, issued new guidelines on risk management and enacted the Anti-Money Laundering/Combating the Financing of Terrorism legislation and the Money Transfer Agencies Act. In the fiscal area, a modern chart of accounts for capital expenditure has been introduced into the integrated financial management system, enhancing the accounting and transparency of public investment. Efforts to further strengthen the Guyana Revenue Authority also continued, including consolidating the new functional organization, completing the rolling out of the integrated tax information system, and improvements in the filing, refund, arrears collection and audit functions. Reforms to support growth centered on modernizing the sugar sector, and on implementing the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS), which could help Guyana benefit from external resources in exchange for the preservation of its rainforests in the world’s carbon credit markets—including through a model agreement signed with Norway, whose resources will allow, among others, the development of non-traditional economic sectors and the conversion of Guyana’s energy sector.
Guyana’s outlook remains positive in the near and medium term, although some important challenges remain. Growth is expected to benefit from the global recovery, the modernization of the sugar sector and the start up of investment projects, which could spur average growth to 4-5 percent in the medium term. The current account would widen somewhat in 2010 with the uptick in domestic demand and the increase in fuel prices, but would narrow gradually over time. Nonetheless, challenges remain, particularly if the upturn in world economic activity were slower than envisaged; or if oil prices were to rise more sharply than projected. Slower progress than expected with the modernization of the sugar sector could also complicate this outlook, particularly in light of the recent phasing out of the preferential sugar prices by the EU, which will increasingly expose Guyana to world-price volatility. Upside potential is related to the full implementation of the LCDS, the eventual exploitation of Guyana’s oil reserves and the sound completion of key large public-private investment projects over the next few years.

Executive Board Assessment
Executive Directors noted that Guyana has weathered the global crisis well, sustaining a solid macroeconomic performance supported by prudent policies. Directors commended the authorities’ commitment to further entrench macroeconomic stability and fiscal sustainability, while promoting long-term growth and development to improve the country’s standard of living and reduce poverty.
Directors observed that the strong fiscal consolidation in 2009 provides space for a more gradual tightening over the near term to support infrastructure investment and growth. A cautious fiscal stance remains nevertheless warranted given remaining vulnerabilities. Directors therefore supported the authorities’ commitment to maintain prudent expenditure policies and to continue implementing structural reforms aimed at safeguarding fiscal sustainability.
Directors commended the authorities’ intention to continue seeking highly concessional terms when contracting debt and to minimize fiscal risks from public investment and public-private-partnerships (PPPs), paying close attention to international best practices. They welcomed the authorities’ efforts to continue to enhance the quality of the assessment and fiscal accounting of public investment. Directors commended the authorities’ commitment to reflect any firm or contingent liabilities related to PPPs in the public debt statistics.
Directors welcomed the authorities’ efforts to achieve sustainable long-term growth, including under the Low Carbon Development Strategy. Continued modernization of the sugar sector and diversification of Guyana’s productive base are key to sustaining growth. In this context, Directors stressed the importance for the public sugar company to implement its recovery measures and ensure that the new plant at Skeldon becomes fully operational in the near term.
Directors commended the authorities’ prudent monetary policy aimed at maintaining low inflation. They noted that the exchange rate appears broadly aligned with fundamentals, and that the current exchange rate policy has served the country well. Looking forward, some Directors supported a gradual approach toward greater exchange rate flexibility, while others considered that a more detailed assessment of the advantages and disadvantages of greater exchange rate flexibility in Guyana is needed.
Directors noted that the financial system has not been directly affected by the global crisis. They welcomed ongoing efforts to further strengthen supervision and enhance the banking system’s resilience. Directors encouraged the authorities to require banks to increase provisioning, monitor asset quality, and further tighten the legislation on the exposure to large borrowers and related-party lending. They commended the recent amendment to bring insurance supervision under the purview of the central bank, and recommended gradually bringing all non-bank financial institutions under a similar regulatory perimeter.
Directors commended the continued upgrading of Guyana’s statistical capacity. They welcomed the completion of the national accounts rebasing exercise, which resulted in a significant upward revision of GDP data. Directors welcomed the authorities’ intention to review the requirements of the General Data Dissemination System (GDDS).
Directors supported the forthcoming publication of the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper to underpin the authorities’ long-standing commitment to poverty reduction and reaching the Millennium Development Goals.
It is expected that the next Article IV consultation with Guyana will be held on the standard 12-month cycle.

Guyana: Selected Economic Indicators

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prel.

Projections

 

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Annual percent change)

Production and prices

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Real GDP

5.1

7.0

2.0

3.3

4.4

4.9

 

 

 

Real GDP per capita

4.8

6.7

1.5

3.0

4.0

4.6

 

 

 

Consumer prices (average)

6.7

12.2

8.1

2.9

3.8

4.0

 

 

 

Consumer prices (end of period)

4.2

14.0

6.4

3.6

4.0

4.0

 

 

 

Terms of trade

3.2

3.1

-1.3

21.5

-5.3

-4.0

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(In percent of GDP)

National accounts

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Investment

21.0

20.7

19.0

16.5

18.2

19.0

 

 

 

  • Private sector

5.8

6.6

8.4

4.0

5.1

5.5

 

 

 

  • Public sector

15.2

14.1

10.7

12.6

13.1

13.5

 

 

 

National saving

7.9

9.6

5.8

8.0

8.2

9.6

 

 

 

  • Private sector

2.3

2.4

1.3

0.6

0.0

1.9

 

 

 

  • Public sector

5.6

7.2

4.5

7.4

8.3

7.7

 

 

 

External savings

13.1

11.1

13.2

8.5

10.0

9.4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nonfinancial public sector

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Revenue and grants

29.3

27.5

25.9

28.8

29.2

29.2

 

 

 

Expenditure

36.5

32.4

30.6

32.0

32.5

32.4

 

 

 

  • Current

21.3

18.4

19.9

19.5

19.4

19.0

 

 

 

  • Capital

15.2

14.1

10.7

12.6

13.1

13.5

 

 

 

Overall balance (after grants) 1/

-7.2

-4.9

-4.7

-3.3

-3.2

-3.2

 

 

 

Total public sector debt (end of period) 2/

93.1

58.9

57.7

56.8

55.2

55.0

 

 

 

  • External 2/

71.8

40.6

39.7

41.6

42.6

44.8

 

 

 

  • Domestic

21.3

18.3

17.9

15.2

12.6

10.2

 

 

 

(Annual percentage change, end of period)

Money and credit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Broad money

15.9

13.6

12.7

9.7

13.3

13.6

 

 

 

Domestic credit of the banking system

4.3

5.6

30.4

-13.2

9.7

18.5

 

 

 

  • Public sector (net)

-229.1

-83.6

2.7

-77.5

-12.7

-15.1

 

 

 

  • Private sector

17.9

18.7

21.8

5.7

10.7

17.3

 

 

 

(In millions of U.S. dollars, unless otherwise indicated; end of period)

External sector

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Current account balance 1/

-190.8

-193.0

-253.6

-172.5

-218.6

-222.2

 

 

 

Gross official reserves 3/

277.3

312.6

355.9

623.0

658.6

738.5

 

 

 

  • Months of imports of goods and services

3.1

2.9

2.7

5.1

4.9

5.2

 

 

 

Memorandum items:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nominal GDP (G$ billion)

292.0

352.2

391.5

413.1

448.1

490.4

 

 

 

Per capita GDP, US$

1,907

2,277

2,497

2,629

2,831

3,059

 

 

 

Guyana dollar/U.S. dollar (period average)

201.0

202.5

204.3

204.1

204.9

207.0

 

 

 

PetroCaribe loans savings (stock, in % of GDP)

1.1

3.6

4.3

7.5

9.4

 

 

 

 

Sources: Guyanese authorities; UNDP Human Devt. Report 2009; and IMF staff estimates and projections.

1/ Including official transfers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2/ After delivery of HIPC assistance and MDRI and excluding Petrocaribe savings in 2007-11.

 

3/ Includes SDR allocation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


1 Under Article IV of the IMF's Articles of Agreement, the IMF holds bilateral discussions with members, usually every year. A staff team visits the country, collects economic and financial information, and discusses with officials the country's economic developments and policies. On return to headquarters, the staff prepares a report, which forms the basis for discussion by the Executive Board. At the conclusion of the discussion, the Managing Director, as Chairman of the Board, summarizes the views of Executive Directors, and this summary is transmitted to the country's authorities. An explanation of any qualifiers used in summings up can be found here: http://www.imf.org/external/np/sec/misc/qualifiers.htm.

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