There is no doubt whatsoever that one of the biggest failures of the A Partnership for National Unity/ Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Government is in the area of job creation. Jobs and training opportunities matter a great deal to citizens, and political parties that seek to govern must have a proper plan in place that is practical and achievable, aimed at allowing citizens to live meaningful lives.
In fact, if one were to conduct a survey among youths in Guyana to find out what are their main concerns, it is almost certain that among those on top of the list would be acquiring a stable, well-paid job. This is perhaps the same for many other countries, as more and more persons are demanding better job opportunities that would enable them to take care of themselves and their families and achieve financial security. In spite of boasting about creating “a better life” for young people, the coalition failed miserably in this area; and many believe that this played a major part in its defeat at the March 2 polls.
Many political analysts have criticised the coalition as it did not seem to have any clear plan as it relates to job creation. Rather than adding jobs to the economy, the coalition Administration took away jobs and placed thousands of persons into poverty. In fact, some analysts have estimated that over 30,000 jobs were lost since the coalition took office in May 2015, with the closure of the sugar estates accounting for the majority.
This newspaper had carried several heart-breaking stories of the suffering of communities, which, for decades, were largely dependent on the sugar sector to survive. The impact has been devastating, both economically and socially, and certainly will take many years for these communities to fully recover. It will call for strategic thinking and a huge amount of resources to bring back these communities to where they were prior to the closures.
It should be mentioned too that currently many other sectors, including mining, construction, services, etc, are doing very poorly, resulting in a number of workers being laid off mainly due to ineffective policies by the APNU/AFC.
Some may argue that Governments do not necessarily create jobs, except in the public service. But it is true that they are responsible for designing and implementing effective policies that would allow for citizens to earn a decent living. Responsible Governments implement policies that encourage Private Sector growth and attract foreign investors, who in turn create good quality jobs. Governments are also expected to form partnerships with other stakeholders that would see the right set of skills being developed to drive the economy based on national needs and interests.
During the elections campaign, some political parties placed job creation as a priority in their manifestos. On his part, Presidential Candidate of the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C), Dr Irfaan Ali provided a detailed plan which will see more than 50,000 jobs being created.
In previous engagements with the media, Ali had explained that his focus would be on Information and Communication Technologies with the establishment of call centres and provision of critical services in sectors such as education, health, finance and security. He had also noted that eco-tourism, agriculture, mining, environmental services, forestry, and housing are key sectors that can churn out many employment opportunities if the right investments are made.
Ali had explained that the PPP/C’s job creation plan also places a major focus on Guyana’s oil and gas sector, especially in the areas of training, shore-based facilities, gas and energy development, enlightened local content and machine and engineering.
Many stakeholders had endorsed Ali’s job creation plan as they believed it was well thought-out and realistic. The general consensus was that such a vision is badly needed to engender confidence in the nation’s workforce again and more importantly, to get people back to work.
Citizens, especially those graduating from tertiary institutions have always maintained that much more needs to be done by both the Government and Private Sector to create more jobs and training opportunities for citizens. They want to see more concrete, realistic plans in place that would encourage more investors to come here and do business, they wish to see more support for small and medium-scale businesses that would allow them to grow and become more competitive and in general, they want to see opportunities for wealth generation.
Once the current political impasse is settled and the duly-elected government – the PPP – is sworn in, we expect that the new administration will immediately begin to implement its plans in relation to job creation. The opportunities must be afforded for the nation’s workforce to get back into being creative so that everyone could play their part in helping to build a strong economy.