“Guyana is a diverse nation; 39.8 per cent of the population is of Indian origin (see Indo-Guyanese), 30 per cent African (see Afro-Guyanese), 19.9 per cent multiracial (almost all part African, including Dougla, Creole-Mulatto, Zambo-Maroon, and Pardo), 10.5 per cent Amerindian and 0.5 per cent other, mostly Chinese, Europeans (most notably Portuguese): Wikipedia.
That private land ownership in Guyana being sharply skewed in favour of one section of the Guyanese population is the product of historically based psychology. Africans were brought to Guyana and forced to work the land and so resented it all.
Indians came to Guyana fleeing life challenges and desirous of better – so accepted low wages and poor living conditions, to save and return free to India after the expiry of their indentures.
In time the colonial administration and planters found that the cumulative cost of return passages had become unmanageable and so developed land settlement schemes to lure the ex-workers into accepting land in lieu of their free passage.
Having no resentment attached to the land, and with most coming from agricultural castes, many took up the offer whilst many others on their own volition used their savings to purchase freehold land.
Africans also purchased land, founding villages, however, they often faced disincentivising policies and actions executed by the colonial administration upon lobbying by powerful planters.
In the post-colonial era, Africans were slow to convert the ‘land to the tiller’ opportunity made available to all by former President Forbes Burnham.
The tenure of Irfaan Ali MP in the office of Minister of Housing & Water had no precedent and has not since been bested in terms of making the ownership of (residential) land available to all Guyanese.
Indications are that this trajectory will be resumed under the current tenure of Dr Irfaan Ali in his current office of President of Guyana. In outreaches early in his term, the President has personally facilitated the expedition of lagging CH&PA processes after listening to persons waiting for several years, and also presented scores of persons with long-awaited titles. Not productive land, but the psychology of land ownership is much the same.
I have seen the new Housing Minister approve within weeks, the removal of a ludicrous clause in the Agreement of Sale presented for purchasers’ signature after paying for one of the CH&PA’s highest-priced house lots in the Re-migrant Scheme at Providence Gardens. Removal of the offending clause inserted some time during the 2015-2020 period, and which I had been trying to have removed for several months, would suggest, at least on paper, that a well-structured residential setting will be developed and maintained – without the emergence of a vulcanising shop, sports bar or short time hotel ever being likely!
For the declared intent of the new Agreement of Sale to become more than just paper but comprehensively legally meaningful to all parties, the CH&PA must fulfil its promise to deliver “an investment of value, location and prestige” with “well-landscaped sidewalks and roadways” and “concrete drains that will allow for quick and easy runoff of surface and stormwater” – in short, a residential area “geared towards satisfying the needs of overseas-based Guyanese and re-migrants who are desirous of securing their future here in Guyana”: Providence Gardens Report. At 7.0 on page 13, it is noted that infrastructural development started in September 2011.
Current owners and prospective purchasers of the “Exclusive residential living” promised by CH&PA to those having both eligibility and the depth of pockets, will be watching with interest.