The People’s Progressive Party’s (PPP) Presidential Candidate, Irfaan Ali, recently stated that some fifty thousand jobs will be created if that party were to win the upcoming General and Regional Elections.
Knowing Ali’s skills in economics and financial management, his statement could not have been one just rooted in politics for the sake of building expectation to garner votes. It would have been a derivative of sound economic analyses, coupled with visionary thinking taking into consideration the country’s vast potential.
In any country, job creation is vital and innovative ways have to be found to keep increasing the numbers. The positive multiplying effect of this resonates in all aspects of the national economy. It is therefore no coincidence that job creation and expanding the economy are prominent in election campaigns. Of course, some are mere rhetoric while others have genuine grounds.
Following Ali’s announcement, persons who are seemingly aligned to the coalition Government, have wasted no time in attacking his statement. In their attempt to render it unachievable, the criticisms seem to be deliberately manufactured to create the impression that Ali’s pronouncement is just another campaign ploy devoid of substance.
The naysayers have failed to see the value in the statement and examine how it can possibly work for the benefit of all. Ali managed the Ministry of Housing under both Presidents Bharrat Jagdeo and Donald Ramotar. Under his watch, that sector boomed in an unprecedented manner. That led to thousands of ordinary Guyanese becoming homeowners. They would not have done so had it not been for the enabling environment created.
Simultaneously, thousands of jobs were created in the process; from block-makers, through lumberyards, masonry, carpentry, painting, electricians, furniture making, landscaping, transportation, food and other areas that boosted and sustained local economies across the country. Commerce in the villages grew as residents became empowered and lifestyles vastly improved.
The numerous housing schemes, both newly established and regularised across the country, speak to the tremendous success which the housing boom realised. It was lauded by some Caribbean leaders who took the opportunity to have a first-hand look. That success that led to many years of unprecedented and sustained economic growth in the history of Guyana could have only been realised through a process of prudent holistic management.
Ali naturally played an integral part in the People’s Progressive Party’s success story which provides the credible and solid grounds for his statement on job creation. On the contrary, jobs continue to be lost since May 2015, when the current Government took office. Instead of finding ways to create jobs, the Government seems bent on reducing them.
Two thousand Indigenous persons and a large number of qualified public servants and contract workers were relieved of their jobs almost immediately after that election; reportedly based upon their assumed political affiliation. Thousands of sugar workers were left jobless when the Government, without any form of social impact assessment, closed some sugar estates under the pretext it was not viable. In doing so, it contradicted its own study giving credence to the belief that its action to close the estates was politically motivated.
Reports out of Region Six, where thousands of sugar workers are now jobless, are that the regional administration is being bypassed and many jobs under its control removed and managed by a Government agency which offers only to friends and cronies.
Also, many businesses were forced to close, pushing hundreds of others into the unemployment line. The social impact from these massive losses continues to be devastating with many families challenged to provide food and children forced to leave school due to the inability to meet the related expenses. Social ills are exacerbating in many of these affected communities as residents have no choice but to adopt survival mode.
The reality is that the housing boom ended after the May 2015 elections and the negative trickledown effect it precipitated has taken a stranglehold in many areas. Not only were jobs lost, but the local economies have been ravaged. The woes of the citizens have been worsened by that and through the unleashing of a plethora of taxes and the constantly increasing cost of living. In other words, it has become extremely burdensome for many residents over the past four years and a major factor is the loss of jobs as the economy spiral downwards.
The Government has not offered any practical solution to create jobs to help mitigate the challenges faced by the people. It keeps peddling its uninspiring “plantain chips” and “cook-up rice” policy which some have deemed laughable and which clearly demonstrates a dearth in economic ideas to advance the country and improved the lives of its people. That cannot be the solution to the macroeconomic issues.
With an absence of vision in managing the country’s economic affairs, it is therefore not surprising that Ali’s proposal is being attacked by Government affiliates. He offers a holistic solution with fervent hope for all so that Guyana can return to the days of unprecedented prosperity. Unfortunately, in life, not everyone is enthused by something well-intended. The attacks will therefore not cease.