Business Page – August 18th, 2002


Business, Economics, Politics and Development

Human Development Report 2002 (PART 2)

(conclusion)

Introduction

Last week, we started our review of the HDR 2002, the annual publication of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) which ranks the countries of the world into an overall Human Development Index in addition to a range of economic and social indicators. In the opening part we noted that HDR 2002 confirms confirms the link between economics, politics and human development. The Foreword to that Report notes “this HDR is first and foremost about the idea that politics is as important to successful development as economics”.

Last week’s column discussed the Report generally and today we examine how Guyana’s current ranking compares with the previous year and makes some comparisons with other Caricom countries. Perhaps the first point worth making is that the coverage has widened to include 173 countries compared with 162 last year. The additions do not necessarily reflect new countries - for example East Timor is not included – but simply the inclusion of some including five Caricom countries that had been left out of the 2001 HDR because of the inadequacy of data. Should we be surprised that this region is largely ignored by the rest of the world? If this region wants to be taken seriously, surely it cannot afford to treat with international matters in such a cavalier manner.

Methodology

Those who follow this Report will recall that in 1999 Guyana was ranked 99 out of 174 countries surveyed, in 2000, 96 out of 174, in 2001, 93 out of 162 and in 2002, it is down to 103 out of 173 countries included in the coverage. The Report should be complied from national HDR surveys using common methodologies but Guyana has not done such a study for a number of years and the work which should have been done by Dr. Kenneth King was not completed. The Report acknowledges certain data limitations which affect it and notes that the index is calculated using international data available at the time the Report is prepared. For a country to be included in the index, “data ideally should be available from the relevant international statistical agency for all four components of the index” The Report also provides a full chapter “ Notes on Statistics in the Report” designed to provide readers with an understanding of the numbers. This clearly does not eliminate all the deficiencies and it is surely a stretch to accept that the adult literacy rate in Guyana is 98.5%! This would put us at the top among Caricom and indeed in the world. This does not however diminish the value of the Report for national planning and international comparisons but the almost total silence of this Government leads one to wonder whether any of its members is remotely interested.

KEY  INDICATORS

The Report ranks the countries of the world in three groups High, in which there are five Caricom states (Barbados, Bahamas, St.Kitts & Nevis, Trinidad & Tobago and Antigua and Barbuda. Medium in which Guyana is placed 103 below Belize, Dominica, St. Lucia, Suriname, Grenada, Jamaica and St. Vincent and Low Development among which Haiti is the only Caricom country. Business Page has selected some of the most important indicators for purposes of regional comparison.

Caricom Countries

HDI Rankings

 Life Expected at Birth

 Adult Literacy Rate

Annual Population Growth (%)

 

2000

 

 Current

2000

 

1975-2000

2000-15

Barbados

30

31

76.8

98.0

0.3

0.3

The Bahamas

33

41

69.2

95.4

1.9

1.1

St. Kitts and Nevis

47

44

70.0

97.8

-0.7

-0.6

Trinidad & Tobago

50

50

74.3

93.8

1.0

0.5

Antigua and Barbuda

37

52

73.9

86.6

0.4

0.3

Belize

58

58

74.0

93.2

2.1

1.6

Dominica

51

61

72.9

96.4

-0.1

.

Saint Lucia

88

66

73.4

90.2

1.4

0.9

Suriname

67

74

70.6

94.0

0.5

0.3

Grenada

54

83

65.3

94.4

0.1

0.3

Jamaica

83

86

75.3

86.9

1.0

0.9

St. Vincent

79

91

69.6

88.9

0.8

0.6

Guyana

96

103

63.0

98.5

0.1

-0.1

Haiti

150

146

52.6

49.8

2.0

1.5

       Source 2002 HDR

For purposes of comparison of the overall index the comparative ranking for 2000 is used  On this basis, Guyana has moved down seven places, while the Caricom country with the largest adverse movement was Grenada which fell a staggering twenty-nine places since 2000 followed by St.Vincent which fell by twelve places, Dominica ten and The Bahamas eight. On the other hand, Haiti, the country with which we are often compared actually improved by four places while Barbados remained steady.

The adverse movement by Guyana confirms the current difficulties through which the country has been passing and also confirms that development is directly linked to governance although St.Vincent appears to be an anomaly in this regard. Sierra Leone which has only recently returned to some level of normalcy is ranked last and the entire range of countries from 147-173 including oil rich Nigeria are located in Africa. Mexico is ranked at 54 just above Cuba on which its NAFTA partner the USA has had a decades-long embargo. Indeed between 1999 and 2002, Mexico has actually fallen four places. On the other hand those partners are in the exclusive top six with Canada now at #3 down from #1 in 1999 while the USA has moved from #3 to # 6 over the same period. NAFTA clearly has a long way to go before it can be considered a partnership of equals.

Our larger neighbours of Brazil and Venezuela have had mixed fortunes with the former improving from #79 to 73 between 1999 and 2002 while Chavez’s country has slid from 48 to 69.

Life Expectancy

Haiti has the lowest life expectancy among Caricom countries at 52.6 years with Guyana the next lowest. The simple average life expectancy of the Caricom countries is 70.1 years. Among the countries with the top HDI’s the average is the high seventies while in Mozambique it is 39.3 years and in Sierra Leone it is 38.9 years. In Botswana and South Africa, two countries with high rates of AIDS the life expectancy is 40.3 years and 52.1 years respectively. 

Population growth

Dominica and St.Kitts and Nevis have had negative growth in their population over the quarter century 1975-2000 with further decline projected for St.Kitts and Nevis over the period 200-2015. Guyana which has had a 0.1 growth in 1975-2000 is projected to witness a decline of a similar percentage over the next fifteen years. Haiti has had the second largest growth after Belize (2.1%) which is also expected to experience a similar growth pattern.

Other Indicators

There are several other useful indicators and information including on voting power at the IMF (48% US, Japan, France, Saudi Arabia, China and Russian Federation) and 52% Rest of the World, with almost identical numbers at the World Bank; Women on the boards of international financial institutions - IMF nil and the World Bank 8%, the countries whose voices are heard in international negotiations, ownership of the media, commitment to health, achieving gender equality and the status of major international human rights instruments and fundamental labour rights conventions.

Together these data and analyses offer powerful tools and benchmarks which countries languishing at the lower end of the world chart ought to find not only useful but also necessary. Increasingly however one has to wonder whether those with the responsibility for the administration of this country are really concerned about economic growth and social development. If they are, they need to let the population know.