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Government announced it has awarded thirty-five contracts for the rehabilitation of bridges, roads and the desilting of drains to contractors from Albouystown and West La Penitence, South Georgetown to the tune of over $165 million.
$135.6 million was awarded for the repair of concrete roads and bridges, and $25.6 million for drainage works.
The government is touting this as meaningful employment but has not addressed when these jobs are completed what next for the residents in terms of sustainable employment or economic activities.
The Albouystown and La Penitence areas are depressed communities. An October 2022 World Bank Fact Sheet on Guyana stated that while the economy is rapidly expanding due to oil and gas, poverty is on the increase.
Shadow Minister of Legal Affairs, Mr. Roydale Forde, SC, who also has responsibility for Labour, told this publication he is concerned about the absence of a national vision and plan that would enable workers and the poor to improve their standard of living.
According to the World Bank, 48 per cent of Guyanese live on less than US$5.5 dollars a day, which is approximately $1100.00. The recent pay out of 8 per cent by the government to public sector workers, the retroactive of which is taxable, has been met with widespread criticism for falling far short of helping lessen the economic pains in households. The high cost of living has resulted in people spending more to buy less.
Whilst government is touting the contracts as “meaningful employment, while fostering community development,” Forde pointed out government is failing to address the complexities of human development in a holistic manner. He said the government’s scattershot approach to providing work on a piecemeal basis has not taken into consideration those who are not interested in the type of work or cannot function in the areas identified, and those who are qualified in different fields of competence or want to pursue a different career path.
Poverty alleviation, Forde warned, would not happen if government continues to govern with blinders on and is devoid of a national focus to ensure all have access to, can meaningfully participate, and benefit from the nation’s resources.
Youth unemployment in Guyana is about 35 per cent. Some analysts have rated it higher. According to the International Labour Organisation the unemployment rate for those ages 15-24 is estimated at 30 per cent. That figure does not include those between the ages of 25-30.