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In a previously published article in Village Voice News captioned, “Widening gap between rich and poor in Guyana” the problem of economic inequality was examined. It was stated in the article that the most influential factor in how wealth is distributed within a society are the policies and programmes adopted by a government. This editorial explores some of the causes of inequality, and related issues, within that context.
Incidentally, while considering the issue of economic inequality, Guyanese may wish to bear in mind that our country is currently observing Indigenous Heritage Month. We know that the vast majority of Guyana’s Indigenous peoples live in the hinterland. And we also know that many of our first peoples survive in absolute poverty – they have nothing. As Guyanese – as human beings with a conscience – we should think about such things.
Experts say that economic inequality may be divided into three parts.
Income inequality or distribution of income is how the total sum of money paid to people is distributed among them.
Wealth inequality is how the total sum of wealth owned by people is distributed among the owners.
Consumption inequality is the way in which the total sum of money spent by people is distributed among the spenders. Each of these can be measured between two or more nations, or within a single nation, or between and within sub-populations such as between hinterland and coastal residents. Also, comparisons may be made between genders and races, or between ethnic groups.
Economists say that in the modern era, inequality among nations was highest around 1970, since then, wealth is being distributed more evenly among various nations because of globalisation. But we will not dwell on that topic here – we are mostly concerned about inequality within our society.
Experts tell us that unequal distribution of wealth could be caused by political and social instabilities, armed conflicts, and such factors, but none of those apply to Guyana. Two factors that definitely apply to Guyana are:
Democratic backsliding – the process of the weakening of democratic institutions.
Government policies and possible discrimination.
Democratic backsliding or autocratization has been examined in many articles published by Village Voice News, so we may move on to consider government policies and discrimination.
Most recently, it was revealed by the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) regime that Guyana’s economy is growing at a phenomenal rate. According to a report in this publication, “The Ministry of Finance in a release said the Mid-Year Report of 2023 highlights that our growth in overall real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is estimated at 59.5 percent in the first half of the year, with the non-oil economy growing by 12.3 percent. The revised full year real GDP growth in 2023 is now projected at 28.2 percent and 9.3 percent for the non-oil GDP.”
With such high economic numbers, Guyanese may have expected that the quality of lives of ordinary citizens would be steadily and rapidly getting better. But all Guyanese know that nothing of the sort is happening. One wonders where is all that money going? It must be going somewhere?
Could all that money be going into the overflowing bank accounts of people who live in Pradoville, and the pockets of their friends and cronies? That is a natural question to ask? If that is the case, then, the economic gap – or inequality – between the rich Pradoville people and ordinary, poor Guyanese is only getting wider and wider.
And if that is happening in Guyana, there can be only one factor to blame – the policies of the ruling PPP regime. Also, one may think about the fact that the PPP regime is facing accusations of racial and political discrimination from multiple sources. Guyanese should wonder about such things.
Consider, too, the fact that Guyana’s hinterland is rich in all types of mineral resources, so, why are Guyanese Indigenous peoples generally poor? Can we blame anything other than the policies of the PPP government? Probability not.