Even as governments grapple with the measures needed to be put in place in response to the novel coronavirus, it should not escape one’s attention that the virus is taking a considerable toll on the level of prosperity Guyana and several other Caribbean countries anticipated for 2020. Making this observation known in his most recent analysis was Sir Ronald Sanders, Ambassador of Antigua and Barbuda to the United States and the Organization of American States.
Expounding further, the envoy said that the growth projections by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) for Antigua and Barbuda of 6.5 percent; Dominica 4.9 percent; the Dominican Republic, 4.7 percent; Grenada 4 percent; and St Kitts-Nevis 3.5 percent, evaporated overnight as COVID-19 walloped the economies of these countries. By the end of March 2020, the Senior Fellow at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies at the University of London and at Massey College in the University of Toronto said it was clear that all these economies would shrink significantly by the end of the first quarter of the year, while noting that the second and third quarters would be no better.
Turning his attention to Guyana’s economy, Sir Ronald said that the country was on track to grow by a phenomenal 85.6 percent largely because of the production and sales of newly discovered oil and gas resources. The Ambassador said that this growth is unlikely to happen now as oil prices plummet amid reduced demands in a world that was largely shut down for weeks in March and April in attempts to curb COVID-19’s spread. Further to this, Sir Ronald was keen to note that the political situation in Guyana, where results of a March 2 general elections are still not final and verified as credible, and the contraction of the economy by the effects of COVID-19, also make the huge projected growth very unlikely.
It should be noted that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) which had made the 85.6 percent forecast for Guyana has since revised this projection to 52.8 percent. But even this is subject to further revision depending on the effectiveness of measures taken locally in response to COVID-19 as well as the recovery rate of the global economy, particularly those nations that are large importers of Guyana’s produce.
While the growth rate for Guyana was revised downward, the IMF has sought to emphasize that it is the only country in the Caribbean and Latin American region to see positive growth in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.