AS the Guyana economy continues to consolidate and grow, there are a number of new policy interventions by the PPP/C administration aimed not only at cushioning the impact of the rising cost of living, but also to put more money in the pockets of Guyanese, especially those in the lower-income brackets and the more vulnerable segments of the population.
The recent initiative currently being rolled out by the government to provide part-time employment opportunities to thousands of Guyanese in several regions of Guyana is one such manifestation. According to Vice-President Dr Bharrat Jagdeo, roughly five billion dollars will be spent on the payment of stipends for an estimated 11, 000 persons who will benefit from the initiative. In fact, the number of persons employed exceeded the initial number of intended beneficiaries by 1000, an indication of the number of persons who are on the labour market in search of employment opportunities. The income from such engagement is $40,000 for 10 days of employment per month, which is way above the current daily minimum wage in the public sector.
This is indeed a commendable initiative on the part of the PPP/C administration to bring financial relief to thousands of householders, especially in the context of the continuing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and rising cost of consumer items caused by the war in Ukraine. But the benefits go beyond financial considerations and provide opportunities for Guyanese to become integrally involved in the exciting task of community, and for that matter, national development. The idea of being given an opportunity to contribute to nation-building is gratifying in its own right. No wonder thousands of people, especially young people, are grasping the opportunities and are full of praise for the PPP/C administration for the initiative.
The part-time employment is particularly suitable for young people who can utilize the remainder of the working week to further their professional growth and development by going to training institutions or taking advantage of government’s online scholarship programmes which are available to all eligible Guyanese.
And while it is true that incomes from the part-time employment may not be adequate to satisfy the full economic and cultural needs of householders, it has to be seen as a supplement to householders’ incomes, many of which have several others who are otherwise gainfully employed.
Besides, the income derived from the government’s part-time jobs are not insignificant, especially when seen against the government’s daily minimum wage and even more significant when compared to that offered by the private sector.
As noted by Vice-President Jagdeo, the employment contract is subject to renewal and could expand to an indefinite period should the situation so demand.
The fact is that the PPP/C administration inherited a dire unemployment situation from the previous APNU+AFC regime, which closed down a number of grinding sugar estates and removed from the government’s payroll thousands of workers due to vindictive and discriminatory measures against those perceived to be members and supporters of the PPP. In addition, the economy was badly underperforming due to incompetence and political instability caused by the defeat of the previous government by way of a no-confidence vote in Parliament in the latter period of misrule.
All of that thankfully is now being corrected and there is today full confidence in the economy, as reflected in the growing wave of local and foreign investments. One immediate consequence of such a development is a much higher level of employment generation. As the growth momentum accelerates, the prospects for better-paying jobs and full employment will get better with time.
The PPP/C administration is doing an exceptionally good job in bringing relief to all segments of the Guyanese people by way of a menu of measures, including financial assistance to vulnerable groups. This is a true indication of a caring administration, one that puts people at the centre of development.