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Poor people are visible throughout the country, with hinterland and rural regions being hit hardest by poverty. Over 36 per cent of the population live in poverty, subsisting on less than about $400 per day, a condition that is preventable in a country with abundant natural resources, said former President David Granger.
Addressing the situation on during his weekly ‘Public Interest Programme,’ Ganger shared the following assessment-
Poor people lack assets to avoid homelessness, hunger and health risks. They are also most likely to lack adequate education, employment and economic opportunities and to suffer from low life expectancy and high rates of infant and maternal mortality.
Poor families cannot afford to buy enough food to meet the daily nutritional needs for good health and are often forced to survive on one meal per day or less. Women and children suffer first and most. Poverty can be a life-long affliction, but it is not inevitable or ineradicable.
Much more could be done to eliminate extreme poverty, Granger explained.
The former president recalled that the A Partnership of National Unity and Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) coalition government launched the visionary ‘Decade of Development’ strategic concept.
The policy, he said, was encouraged by the expectation that profits from the petroleum industry would be expended, prudently, to reduce poverty by increasing wages and salaries for public servants, teachers and nurses, increasing old-age pensions and public assistance and augmenting returns to farmers and fisherfolk. This was a solid social foundation on which a more equal society could be erected, and extreme poverty could be eliminated, he advised.
He pointed out the People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP) administration is the first Government in Guyana’s history with access to petroleum profits on the present scale. Consequently, it is now expedient to expand employment opportunities, engage in economic restructuring to emphasise food security for poor people’s everyday survival and to stimulate equitable economic growth.
Further, Ganger advised, donating hampers, handouts and alms alone cannot satisfy poor people’s long-term needs. He shared that the war against poverty can be won, placing greater emphasis on public education, public health, public infrastructure and public security.
Accordingly, there needs to be prudent planning and people-centered expenditure of petroleum profits during this ‘decade’ because “the poor need not be with us always.”
Most importantly, Guyana now possesses the resources to make poverty, history stated the former president.