We will expand middle class – Pres Ali tells Al Jazeera

The content originally appeared on: INews Guyana

Cognizant of the percentage of Guyanese who still live in poverty, President Dr. Irfaan Ali has assured that his government is committed to not only reducing poverty, but also expanding the middle class.

President Ali gave these assurances during an interview with the international news agency Al Jazeera, representatives of which are present in Guyana. Asked by the interviewer if he was looking to make a dent in the poverty statistics, the President noted that he was looking to do this and more.

“One of the important things that we must do, improves disposable income in every household. To give people access to basic facilities. Water, electricity, food, those things we’ve put in place. We understand what it takes to manage the country, without resources. So, we more than understand the responsibility that comes with managing a country with resources, with this opportunity to transform the lives of every single person,” President Ali laid out.

He also pointed out that they are already making progress in improving disposable income, referring to recent advances in reducing gender gaps. In the Global Gender Gap report 2022, Guyana was ranked 35th in the world and 2nd in the Caribbean. According to the report, Guyanese men and women have near equal access to financial services, land, and non-land assets.

“Look at the latest report, the gender gap report that came out. You will see the magnificent improvement in Guyana. We improved by more than 35 places or more. The gender gap report. Look at our enrollment rate,” the President said.

“So not only will we put a dent in that, a significant dent, but we are creating and moving in a direction to where more people will move to a position in which not only basic poverty levels is addressed, but the issue of empowerment and disposable income is addressed, to the extent that more persons will be graduating to the middle class.”

Three years after oil production began, Guyana is currently the fastest-growing economy in the world. The projected economic growth of over 50 per cent for 2022 is by far the highest in the region.

It was revealed in September by the mid-year report that Guyana’s real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew by 36.4 per cent for the first half of 2022, on the back of growth in a number of economic sectors such as the agricultural and mining sectors.

According to the report, in addition to Guyana’s GDP growth, non-oil economic growth was 8.3 per cent. This, according to the Finance Ministry, reflects the Government’s supportive policy. In addition, the outlook for the rest of the year will continue to be favourable.

“For the full year, real GDP growth in 2022 is now projected at 56 per cent overall, and non-oil GDP growth at 9.6 per cent, maintaining Guyana’s position of global leader in economic growth,” the Ministry of Finance said.

The report noted that the agriculture, forestry and fishing sectors are estimated to have expanded by 10.9 per cent in the first six months of 2022. These figures were driven by higher production from the other crops, forestry and livestock, in spite of weaker performances in the sugar, rice and fishing industries. The sector is now expected to grow by 11.9 per cent.

With respect to mining and quarrying sectors, these are estimated to have grown by 64.6 per cent in the first half of the year, with a revised 2022 forecast of 99.9 per cent driven by growth in the petroleum and other mining industries.