President Donald Ramotar is not happy with recent statements by Opposition Leader David Granger that the country is becoming a narco state. During the budget debates, Granger also said that the drug trade was the engine of growth in Guyana and he said the government was not doing enough to tackle the problem.
The President in an interview with the Government Information Agency said he was insulted by the remarks since several projects put in place by his government ought to receive the credit for growth in the economy.
Over the past years, Guyana has become a drug transhipment point for large quantities of cocaine destined for north America, Africa and Europe. President Ramotar said Granger should apologise for the remark.
President Ramotar said that he can point to the several investments such as those made by the rice farmers in particular. “They invest about $28 billion in the economy alone, is he (Granger) calling rice farmers drug people?”
These farmers invest heavily, annually, in equipment such as tractors and other agricultural equipment, at around $2 billion, rice millers spend around $10 billion also, he noted. He cited unionised sugar workers whose wages amount to $20 billion per year, the tourism sector which comes up to around $35 billion annually, and new house owners who spent around $50 billion last year.
“These are people who have been mortgaging things, going to the banks; the banks themselves would not have been giving them loans if they thought that they were drug traffickers,” the President noted.
The private housing developers spent about another $100 billion in developing housing schemes, upper end type of housing schemes, and people who worked in gold mining sector last year alone provided about $120B to the economy, he stated.
“Where is the drugs in all of this? This is why I think this is a major insult to a lot of the hard working people,” he said.
It was pointed out that government’s wages bill for public servants amounts to $38 billion annually while pensioners’ grants and public assistance amounted to about $8 billion last year.
“How could they talk about drugs fuelling this economy? This is obviously an attempt, on the part of the opposition to besmirch the good name of our country, to attack the good name of our country, to try to prevent foreign investors, without any facts”.
In his presentation to the National Assembly during Tuesday’s budget debates, Mr. Granger said the PPP administration has failed to put in place proper public security measures and the result is that drug running and money laundering are fueling the local economy.
“Narco trafficking is the engine of growth that is driving this country’s high rates of money laundering, high rates of gun running and execution murders and armed robberies”, Granger said. He also pointed out to the National Assembly that the country’s security problem is what is turning away foreign investors.