What Is to Blame for Suriname’s Economic Woes?

Suriname’s president, Dési Bouterse, is facing an economic contraction amid the drop in global commodity prices and a local currency that has fallen against the dollar. // File Photo: Government of Suriname.

Suriname is a “nation in crisis,” said a Sept. 20 Associated Press report, which likened the country’s economic woes to those of nearby Venezuela. The World Bank says Suriname has the world’s third-highest inflation rate, and the IMF projects a contraction of the country’s economy this year. Hospitals and pharmacies say they lack the supplies to treat patients. How will the crisis affect the country’s leadership, including controversial President Dési Bouterse? What conditions led to Suriname’s economic troubles? Why have there been few widespread protests in Suriname as have occurred in Venezuela? What should Suriname, which is heavily dependent on exports of oil and gold, do to solve its economic crisis?

Joshua Charap, IMF resident representative in Suriname: “For 2016, we project a contraction of 7 percent and inflation of 77 percent. Foreign reserves are perilously low, reflecting the drop in commodity export prices, the closure of alumina production, fiscal and external current account deficits, and central bank intervention. In May, the authorities requested a Stand-By Arrangement (SBA) with the International Monetary Fund to smooth the ongoing adjustment, restore confidence, and pave the way to economic recovery. Performance under the program has been mixed, and restoring macroeconomic stability, as envisaged under the program, will require great efforts from the Surinamese authorities as well as society as a whole. Significant increases in fuel taxes and electricity tariffs are critical to improve the fiscal situation and should be accompanied by….”

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