$1B injected into Region Two economy
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A section of the gathering at the Affiance Play Ground (Office of the Vice-President photo)
A section of the gathering at the Affiance Play Ground (Office of the Vice-President photo)

— with allocation of 2,000 part-time jobs to residents

JUST over two months after promising 800 part-time jobs for residents of Region Two, Vice-President, Dr Bharrat Jagdeo, on Tuesday, returned to the Essequibo Coast to not only make good on his word, but also announce that the government is delivering beyond expectations.

Instead of making available 800 part-time jobs, the government has decided to increase the number to 2,000 following a flood of applications from Region Two residents. Persons employed will work at government offices and agencies and will receive $40,000 per month for 10 days of work. Through this programme, the government will pump around $1 billion into the economy of Region Two.

The part-job scheme is geared at supplementing the household income of persons who have been severely affected by the rising cost of living due to COVID-19 and the ongoing war between Russia and the Ukraine.

The pandemic has obstructed the global supply chain, resulting in a demand glut for major commodities and steep increases in prices for them, while the war between Russia and Ukraine has caused an upward spiral in fuel and wheat prices.

Vice-President, Dr Bharrat Jagdeo addressing a well-attended gathering at the Charity Secondary School (Office of the Vice-President photo)

Russia is a major supplier of gas to Europe and both Russia and the Ukraine are major producers of wheat. The global shortage of wheat has caused many countries that produce the commodity to cut back on export, worsening the situation with shortage and driving up prices in the process.

Here in Guyana, those exogenous factors have hit home hard, taking a toll on the ordinary man. The situation has been exacerbated by poor policies by the former APNU+AFC Government, said Dr Jagdeo during his address to residents at the Suddie Early Childhood Centre.

He estimated that over 35,000 jobs were lost as a result of poor policies of the Coalition Government and a similar number when the very government shutdown the country at the advent of COVID-19 here.

The PPP/C Government, upon being elected to office on August 2, 2020, made a decision to reopen the country allowing for a flow of economic activities, while simultaneously taking firm steps to control the spread of the pandemic.

Close to two years since assuming office, the PPP/C Government has also embarked on several transformational projects such as the gas-to-shore and Amalia Falls projects, but has also been taking direct steps to address the massive job loss burden it inherited from the Coalition Government.

Since the Essequibo is predominantly agriculture based, jobs in the public and private sectors there have been difficult to come by, as investors prefer Region Four and Three which have larger populations and are close to markets and ports for export.

It is mainly for this reason that the government launched the one-year, part-time job programme outside these two regions and is also looking at other avenues to generate employment.

CO-INVESTING
“In the budget, there are several initiatives this year. Some of the initiatives are to make Essequibo more attractive to investors, for example, we will co-invest in factories here. Right now, we are looking at about two or three call centres that could employ close to 1,000 people on the coast. The government will build the factory shells and train the people and then the investors will just operate this and this is just the beginning to generate more jobs on the coast,” he said.

The Vice-President was also quick to point out that not just the Essequibo Coast but similar efforts will be made in Regions One, Five, Six, Seven, Eight, Nine and 10, where the creation of employment opportunities has been a distant cry when compared to Regions Three and Four, which are currently experiencing a shortage of skilled workers because of the construction boom there.

Under the part-time job programme some 8,000-10,000 jobs will be created and the government’s hope, through the programme, is to employ one person per household.

NO FREE MONEY
Speaking at a separate meeting at the Affiance Play Ground where scores gathered, Dr Jagdeo reiterated that the part-time job programme is not about giving away free money, as persons will be monitored.

“We expect people to actually work. If you are getting $40,000 per month for 10 days work, then we expect you to work regardless of where you are placed…. It is a community spirit that we want to build also because many of you will be working for the government in ensuring you see improvement for services in your community,” Dr Jagdeo said.

He also urged the residents to make full use of the Guyana Online Academy of Learning (GOAL) scholarships and pointed out that persons who do not possess the requisite qualifications could do a remedial programme to gain entry into a tertiary or skills certificate programme.

The Government of Guyana has made available some 20,000 free scholarships to Guyanese citizens. So far, some 6,000 have been awarded and the government is looking to award another 5,000 this year.

Dr Jagdeo also noted that efforts are being made to improve Internet connectivity and provide laptops to persons in need so that they could study and earn a reputable qualification. Guyana, he said, is taking steps to equip itself with the expertise to take on the big jobs of the future.

Over at the Charity Secondary School, the Vice-President repeated the messages he made to the gatherings at the Suddie Early Childhood Centre and the Affiance Play Ground.

He also said that the government has been delivering on its promises. The government, Dr. Jagdeo said, since coming to power less than two years ago, has removed VAT on water, food items, agriculture input, cement and cement board; has been subsidising water and electricity to avoid price increases being passed down to consumers; has restored and increased the cash grant with the aim of further increasing it to $50,000 by 2025; has increased old age pension by 40 per cent and has given billions of dollars to farmers affected by flooding enabling them to return to the land.

The government has allocated $1 billion for the purchase of fertilisers for farmers; has allocated over 10,000 house lots; has built and handed over scores of homes and will be building homes for private land owners under a programme where it will recover monies invested in this project and many other initiatives for future programmes or projects.

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