Raise the debt ceiling
Kaieteur News – Of course, this was always at work and budget issues had to come down to this. That is, raise the debt ceiling. In the face of the many billions that have been talked about so casually, and participated in, it should be obvious to any well-thought-out and concerned citizen – all Guyanese citizens – that this is causing serious trouble today and tomorrow. And we in this paper say this, because it should be more and more obvious that the nation’s debt ceiling is unrestricted, that what is already high is going to break through restrictions, because under the current administration, there is no such care or concern.
In the nearly six months that the PPP / C government has been in office, there has been one respectable feature that has risen to near the top. It has been borrowed and borrowed, and then borrowed some more. It’s not even in the millions, but billions of dollars, with the account still going on in normal reckless mode. This government behaves like a drunken sailor on an extended shore rampage, splitting and spending at will, and for anything and everything, that attracts human fancy. We remember the miners (pork knockers) of the old, who had strikes taking part in a free celebration for all, such an endless round.
It has been lending to address the needs of the COVID-19 pandemic, which is certainly an area where there can be no row, no complaint, and especially when loans and expenditure are accompanied by clear and clean liability related. As expected, part of the huge borrowing requirement is set squarely at the feet of the previous coalition government, which was linked to numerous costly excesses that have since emerged. That was safe and sure to be appealing, albeit a bit topical and overgrown at the moment. But it is a target that cannot be ignored, or a shot aimed well not to pass, when it cannot be defended firmly.
In all of this, there has been interest, and some concern, about where the funding would come from compared to the small budget measures announced by His Excellency last year. Again, some of the relief measures put in place are arguably most timely, and have made a difference in the lives of many Guyanese, especially those at the lower end of the economic and social schools. But there was some trepidation then, which is intensified even more so now, as to how all spending programs were going to be funded. Running a huge deficit or taking full advantage of many avid lenders readily available were among the options believed to be on the table.
Well, the proliferation of loans in recent months was indicative of the mentality of government leaders. So, that has been put to rest, but it is a restless state, now exacerbated by staggering budgetary moves. The problem is that the senior minister in charge of the nation’s finances has now moved to the National Assembly to introduce two orders seeking clearance to increase this country’s debt ceiling. It is not just that he is the point man signaling where the PPP / C is going (and taking us willingly or dissatisfied with it), but of the staggering amounts involved.
The orders speak of increasing domestic debt by 233 per cent and external debt by 65 per cent. Those aren’t chicken food numbers, and when translated into dollars, the heaviness of the burdens intended to be poured on current and future generations is shocking. In terms of domestic, the increase proposed by $ 350 billion is from $ 150 to $ 500 billion. There is nothing incremental about such numbers, but the equivalent of mortgaging the house multiple times over, with liens all over the place. They are going to fall due at some point, and no matter how generous and ‘soft’ those loans are, they can come back to botching. It is our belief that a more gradual vision and approach would ensure that some mouth watering projects are carried out, but without directing us to the albatross of debt and major debtors hanging around the neck of the nation. It doesn’t have to be all that expensive under the sun and all at once.
And it is, because when that 65% (another $ 250 billion) increase sought for foreign debt is taken into account, optimism has little left over. Running a huge debt (over half a trillion dollars in one move), and recklessly gambling, but hopefully against future oil revenue streams, has been the failing way of other Third World countries, as it was trial by their corrupt leaders, who dug up huge debt. holes for their societies, while aiding themselves abundantly to many of those billions in loans, and then leaving the already impoverished people poorer than before.
This is the disastrous fate on which Guyanese stare, and carelessly for the most part. Our citizens are so partisan, so thoughtless, so far gone, that they ignore (or passively submit) to the chickens wrapped around them. This tremendous budget increase risks spelling, they speak to hard troubles down the road.