The new President is highly concerned with violent crime, and his rhetoric and record promise a militaristic approach. Giammattei is keenest to promote growth, and optimists compare him to such pro-business presidents as Álvaro Arzú in the 1990s and Óscar Berger in the 2000s.
Unless economic growth rises from 3% to 5-6%, “we won’t get people out of poverty,” says Tony Malouf
, the new administration’s economy minister, who was the boss of Guatemala’s main business chamber.
Malouf aims to achieve these results (in part) by doubling exports. Since Giammattei’s election victory in August, he has visited nearly a dozen countries to invigorate investment. By teaming up with the “entrepreneurial right”, this administration might achieve a level of competence not seen in recent governments, says Juan Luis Font, a journalist.
Giammattei rejects the widespread view that his conservative, pro-business politics are associated with indifference towards poor indigenous Guatemalans. When asked what his government will do for the rural poor, Giammattei showed a photo on his phone of a malnourished child.
“This is the reality of a million children in Guatemala,” he says, promising a “crusade for nutrition”.
Giammattei’s initiative to build roads in the western highlands- the source of many migrants- in addition to attracting investment to the region reflects his hope to construct a “wall of prosperity” to curb the exodus of migrants. This will require investment by Guatemala’s government, which currently is terribly low.
As reported by The Economist
, tax revenue is 10% of GDP: the lowest share in Latin America. Giammattei’s Vamos Party, which has a tenth of congressional seats, cannot raise taxes on its own.