Govt promises robust enforcement of labour laws

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Minister of Labour, Joseph Hamilton, MP

… to add more OHS officers in each region, labour officers to increase

Guyana will see an increase in Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Officers as well as Labour Officers throughout the country, Minister of Labour, Joseph Hamilton told the National Assembly as the Debate on the $383.1B Budget proposed by the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Administration, commenced on Monday.
Though not delving into the particulars of the multibillion dollar budget, the Labour Minister, who was the first Member of Parliament to speak from the governing side of the House, said OHS Officers will be placed in each of the 10 Administrative Regions to ensure workers in both the public and private sectors are operating in conducive working environment and their health and safety protected.

He added that in the next five months, the Labour Ministry will increase the number of Labour Officers from 16 to 26. Such a move, Minister Hamilton posited, will result in each region having at least two labour officers.

He also spoke of plans to boost the Central Recruitment and Management Authority (CRMA) in an effort to effectively meet the needs of both job seekers and employers, and to expand the Board of Industrial Training (BIT) Programme to every region of the country.

Minister Hamilton said already, BIT officers have been assigned to every region, and it is anticipated that within the next year, 3,500 persons will gain employment based on skills and knowledge acquired during the training programme.

APNU+AFC Member of Parliament, Amanza Walton-Desir

However, ahead of divulging his plans for the Labour Ministry, Minister Hamilton lashed out at the main Opposition – the A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC).

He said while the National Budget is in keeping with the Government’s vision for the development of Guyana, APNU+AFC will reduce the debate to a “backyard gyaff” with no depth.

“Mr Speaker it is a people that is bankrupt of ideas [with] backyard conversations. They discuss political and economic development with rum shop gyaff…no depth, no understanding of matters,” the PPP/C MP told the House.

Hamilton submitted that APNU+AFC is resorting to a “race based conversation” when it did nothing for its supporters during its five years in Office.

“Your government was in power for five years, is Linden a changed place economically? The answer is, No! Is Buxton a changed place? No…,” Minister Hamilton opined, while adding that the APNU+AFC did nothing for the Guyanese people regardless of race.

It was APNU+AFC Member of Parliament and Attorney-at-Law, Amanza Walton-Desir, who had frontally addressed the issue of race when she opened the Budget Debate on Monday.

“It is also not lost on us, and in fact it is now downright undeniable that the PPP/C administration has embarked upon a campaign of ethnic cleansing in the public service. The PPP/C has made it pellucid that there is no place for black, qualified professionals in Guyana. The rabidity of this administration Mr. Speaker is as such that not only have they fired hundreds of qualified black professionals, but they have taken active steps to ensure that their disapproval is communicated to persons and organisations who are desirous of retaining the services of these professionals,” MP Walton-Desir told the House in what could be described as a very spirited presentation.

She submitted that Indo-Guyanese and Indigenous Guyanese, who are perceived to be supporters of the coalition, have also come under fire.

But Minister Hamilton, while brushing aside the allegations of racial discrimination, told MP Walton-Desir and her colleagues on the opposing side of the House, that regardless of their utterances, the PPP/C’s plans for the country have already been initiated.

“The economic development train has left the station; you cannot stop it. You cannot hold it back, and that is why today, you are becoming irrelevant even among your own supporters. Nobody listens to you and your nonsense talk. Nobody cares about you because they know you have nothing to offer to this country,” he told the APNU+AFC.

In the short term, he said the Irfaan Ali Administration will ensure Guyanese are kept safe even as it nurtures the economy. “For the medium term, our plan is to make Guyana an economic power house, where every single Guyanese can live, work, learn and retire in dignity,” he added.

The budget debate will continue on Wednesday at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (ACCC) where the National Assembly is being temporarily convened due to the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

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