Economic outlookWhile Finance Minister Winston Jordan has laid the blame for the slide of Guyana’s economic growth projections at the feet of falling gold declarations, Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo is of the view that lack of new investments remains a key factor in the slide.During a press conference on Saturday, Jagdeo lambasted the Government not only for the sliding economic performance, but also for the fact that in its almost three years in Government, the coalition has done the very things it criticised the PPP for doing.“A lot of the previous investments that were made kept the growth rate up. But since this Government took office, it has not brought in a single new major investment. ExxonMobil came here under the PPP, now they’re messing up the whole future; because the renegotiation they had, I am stunned that they would do something of this nature,” Jagdeo declared,“Every single thing they criticised us for, they’ve gone outlandishly and done worse… from settlement of cases to corruption (to) no regard for procedure and no tendering system. Wanton waste, bad contracts, secrecy in Government…the incompetence is unbelievable,” he bemoaned.In light of all this, Jagdeo expressed fear that the numbers may continue to slide. He noted that when oil production commences in 2020, the growth rate will increase. By this time, however, the Economist noted that the damage would already have been done to labour-intensive industries.“By that time, maybe 30,000 to 40,000 of our people would be without a job, because all the labour-intensive sectors have been killed. Over 25,000 people (have been) without jobs since this Government took office. The private people who have had to lay off, if you aggregate the numbers, it is close to 10,000,” he expressed.SlideAccording to Minister Jordan, Guyana recorded some 653,754 ounces of gold in 2017. This indicates that that gold declaration fell short of the projected 720,000 ounces, something that may have an impact on overall economic performance. Indeed, Jordan linked the performances of other sectors with the situation.“It will have an impact on the growth, with both sugar and gold not coming in on target. It means we will have to revise last year’s growth rate even further, and it will put some strain on the growth for 2018,” Jordan stated.Sugar output in Guyana fell by nearly a quarter from last year, with close to 140,000 metric tonnes being produced in 2017, which is the lowest in 27 years.The decline happened at a time when the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) is preparing to permanently close three of its six estates, having fired about 4673 of its 15,000-member workforce. Other workers numbering close to 1000 could also be laid off this year, as the Government embarks on its downsizing initiative.Jordan said the economy was expected to grow by 2.9 per cent, failing to meet the revised growth projection of 3.1 per cent for 2017. The initial projected growth of the economy was 3.8 per cent, but this was revised by midyear to 3.1 per cent after the economy grew by only by 2.2 per cent in July of 2017.Making reference to gold, the Minister said there were several impediments that led to a fall in gold declaration. He said that accessibility for miners was one of the major factors. Nevertheless, Jordan said he is confident that the country’s gold production would climb again this year, due to good prices and improved access.