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Workforce Issues and Recommendations

 

Attracting Foreign Investment

We must make it easier for business to invest in our nation.  In assessing the ease of doing business in Guyana, a World Bank Group Member, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), issued a Report, "Doing Business 2011" that ranked Guyana 100 out of 183 countries.  Government corruption and bureaucratic hurdles are two major contributors to Guyana’s low rank in the IFC index.  In addition, while the judicial system is responsible for upholding contracts, it is often ineffective. Inefficiency and long delays in the judiciary make doing business with Guyana unattractive for foreign business.

 

There are concrete steps that we can take to alleviate the drag on our economic development as a result of these factors. Guyana will host an international investor summit featuring some of our nation’s biggest investors as well as new countries we will engage in the future.  As noted below we will also focus on eliminating tax and bureaucratic obstacles to ensure our nation is in the most competitive position possible to attract foreign investment.  Faith Harding’s government will be a pro-business government.  We will make doing business in Guyana least intrusive and efficient.

My administration will examine the Companies Act and streamline the processes required for starting and maintaining business registration and the continued compliance with business regulations.

We will move immediately to reform our judicial system so as to make it into a twenty-first century independent institution. We will appoint judges and magistrates based on merit; we will insulate the judiciary from political interference; and we will computerize the courts’ docket systems so that the long delays are no more and the days of lost and missing files are a thing of the past.

Equally important is that we will expand the Alternative Dispute Resolution systems to take some of the burden off of our court systems.

Supporting Our Entrepreneurs through Micro- Finance

Guyana had an estimated 22,000 small businesses in 2008.  The three key financiers to small business and entrepreneurs are: Institute for Private Enterprise Development (IPED), the Small Business Development Trust (SBDT) and the Development Financing Limited South America (DFLSA). IPED accounted for about 82 percent of the activities and jobs generated by small business lending in 2009. The current administration had no dedicated mechanism for funding small business operations.  We must follow the example of the IPED and fight for our entrepreneurs.

In the first one hundred days of a Faith Harding Administration, we will take the first steps to establish a small business “loan bank” structured after the business model of IPED, even bringing members of IPED on board as potential committee members.  Additionally, we will reach out to IPED and look to create more public-private partnerships to facilitate loans for small businesses.

We must strengthen our nation’s ties to the IFC. We are committed to starting these efforts as soon as we take the reins of government.  We are uniquely qualified to make this a reality.

Ecotourism

Guyana boasts one of the largest undamaged rainforests in all of South America and the world, inhabited by over 1,100 known vertebrates and 1,600 known species of birds.  From 1999 to 2005, the number of tourists visiting Guyana doubled, accounting for $35 Million (US) in income.  This is due to Guyana’s Konashen Indigenous District, which is home to vast biological diversity including a number of rivers and rainforests.  We also have the largest waterfall in the world: the Kaieteur Falls. Tourism to Niagara Falls in the United States attracts 8 million annual visitors.  If we can bring in one-tenth of this number of visitors we will give our economy a much needed boost and open new opportunities for jobs and income.

We will meet with leaders in our eco-tourism community to establish an open line of communication and find out what the government can do to utilize our natural beauty to create jobs.  We will also work with businesses to continue to expand tourist attractions such as river boating, rainforest hikes, and deep sea fishing expeditions.  We will work with the hospitality industry to develop much needed training programs to teach our people how to perform at the optimal level in the hospitality industry - doing this will not only enhance the number of tourist that come to this great nation but it will also put hundreds to work here at home.

Medical Tourism

Guyana's pristine nature lends itself to creating supreme rehabilitative medical facilities and services. Given our close proximity to large populations and economies like Brazil and the USA, we can become a top medical tourist destination for rehabilitative, nursing home and other health care facilities and services There is a great future in this industry given ageing populations worldwide and large international companies offering overseas options to their staff members and retirees.

Strategic Framework for Agriculture Development

The main objective of our proposed Framework for Agriculture Development is national food security and agriculture diversity for economic wealth.  Guyana is endowed with extremely rich agricultural lands, and not all of them are on the coastal belt where the majority of Guyana’s population lives.  We simply have to explore the vast untapped and undeveloped parts of our country and utilize it for what it is best suited.

Guyana’s main agriculture products are: sugar, rice, plantains, coconuts, cash crops, fish and shrimp, pineapples.  The country is bereft of transportation avenues for moving these crops to market.  In recent years the agricultural output of our nation has decreased to alarming amounts – the only agriculture product of Guyana that has increased in the last 10 years is rice production.  We simply have to reclaim lost ground and increase our agricultural output.

One mechanism to achieve this is to increase the acreage of land available in the production of agriculture products, and to produce enough food to be able to feed our nation and to export our products to foreign markets.

Instituting our plan for agriculture development requires at least the following:

 

  • Indentify new land for the production of agriculture products (rice, sugar, cash crops, fruits and vegetables, and livestock, poultry and fisheries
  • Capacity building for agriculture personnel
  • Establish plant nurseries nationally
  • Establish distribution centers
  • Expand agriculture processing centers
  • Establish cold storage facilities
  • Enforce export market protocols
  • Establish new markets for our products
  • Establish canning industries
  • Promote efficiencies of scale by encouraging large farms

 

In the first 100 days of Faith Harding’s Administration we will undertake to meet with the stakeholders in the agriculture sector with an eye toward formulating the modalities to ensure that the plan is effectively carried out.  We will also provide the necessary regulatory framework that is critical to success of agriculture in Guyana.

Currently there is no agriculture specific Bank in Guyana and farmers and others involved in agriculture production are forced to utilize regular commercial banking services which are not conducive for the types of activities in agribusiness.  In the first 100 days in government we will restore an Agriculture Specific Bank.

Organic farming is one area that will be a focus of our efforts as we recognize that there is a tremendous market for organic food throughout the world.  We are capable of meeting some of the demand and we will.

The essential element of the plan is the people who are going to participate in the development of agriculture and agribusiness.  Farmers, distributors, educators, and peripheral skill sets are going to be required.  This is where we propose to find new jobs for the Guyanese population.

Natural Resources

Exportation of our key natural resources makes up nearly 60% of our GDP. Guyana’s main natural resources are: gold, bauxite, and timber.  Guyana also has reserves of manganese, uranium among other minerals.  We must leverage our wealth in these key resources to create productive jobs and establish international ties that will serve to strengthen our economy.  We must also make sure we maintain good ties with those nations we do the most trade with (Canada and United States) but also look for more opportunities to expand our horizons particularly with our neighbours.

We propose to meet with our key export partnerships to explore new avenues for the mining and distribution of our products. We will also work with local businesses, miners, timber producers, farmers and fishermen to set up manufacturing and processing plants, marketing and sales agencies to keep jobs at home.  We will also institute critical job training programs to increase the number of people working to develop our natural resources.

Infrastructure Development

Guyana has a number of infrastructure difficulties.  Guyana has 7,970 KM (4,952 Miles) of roadway, however only 590 KM (367 Miles) are paved.  We can create good jobs here if we simply commit ourselves to developing our infrastructure.

We are beset with problems in the drainage and irrigation systems and the energy sector: unreliable electricity, no formal plan for use of renewable energy or use of bio-fuels; and lack of potable water to our businesses and homes.

We will create a “top ten checklist” of the most important infrastructure projects we hope to accomplish during the first term of the Faith Harding Administration.  We must prioritize to ensure tangible results. Improving our roads will make it easier for the transportation of produce and manufactured commodities as well as for residents to access all of Guyana with relative ease.  We must take first steps to build good roads and railways to Brazil and Venezuela, which will expand our ability to trade with our close neighbors.  Additionally making travel to Brazil and Venezuela more accessible will enhance Guyana’s mining, agriculture, medical and and ecotourism industries. We will expand discussions with Brazil on the collaboration of major projects such as the deep water harbour and hydropower.

We are also going to promote “green” jobs by focusing on the development of renewable energy sources (wind, water, and solar).  This is not only efficient and cost effective in meeting our energy needs but also has the advantage of being environmentally responsible.

We will put people to work by making the necessary investments in roadways, railways, hydro electricity, wind farms, and growing bio-fuels.  The investment in these key areas will fuel economic development and put our people to work.

Corruption

Corruption is one of Guyana’s most pressing issues. Transparency International's 2010 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) ranked Guyana 116 out of 178 countries surveyed, and gave the country a CPI Score of 2.7 (10 being highly clean and 0 being highly corrupt). We are well aware that the poorest get hit the hardest by governmental corruption.

Faith Harding Administration will have a zero tolerance policy for any form of corruption; we will set the precedent that corruption will not be tolerated in government.  Anyone who serves in government found guilty of a corruption-related crime will be immediately dismissed and will face criminal charges.  It will not stop there, after the first 100 days, cleaning up Guyana’s government will be a cornerstone of my administration.

We will move immediately to appoint an Ombudsman and to adequately fund the Office of the Auditor General.  We will ensure that these offices are independent and insulated from political interference.  Further, we will put in place the Procurement Commission called for by the Constitution and provide complete transparency in awarding government contracts.  We will target those ministries and government agencies that are most vulnerable to corruption and create within them "islands of Integrity" which will improve standards of performance.

Cutting Waste

We are serious about cutting waste.  As the former Minister of Public Service, Dr. Harding, spearheaded the restructuring of the Guyana Public Services Ministry and brought about pivotal changes by decreasing operational inefficiencies, minimizing internal redundancies, and increasing overall program effectiveness.  The Faith Harding’s Administration will continue to eliminate unnecessary government bureaucracy so that local companies and companies from abroad will be able to do business with Guyana in a simple and transparent manner.

We will hold an efficiency and transparency summit featuring cabinet members, business leaders, and top-level staff from every government agency.  From there we will be able to zero-out waste and increase transparency to make sure our government works for the people and that it does all it can to create jobs.

An Educated Workforce

There is no substitute for the value of a good education. Dr. Harding pioneered the nationalization of the Guyana Nursery Education Programme that allowed cost-free education for all children over the age of three. She also designed several curricula and training programmes for various levels of education and training from early childhood to University and post University.

We will make Secondary and Tertiary Education Reform a priority so that our young people have the right skills to compete in an increasingly competitive international work force.

Faith Harding government will develop a system of community colleges whereby persons are trained in the skills most useful to filling the jobs created.  Agribusiness, computer technology, ICT, engineering and environmental sciences will be the center pieces of these community colleges.

We will establish links with universities in the United States and the United Kingdom whereby student exchanges will assist in the education of our workforce.  Education opportunities will also be supplemented with video lectures from specialist teachers from afar.

We will reestablish the Guyana Scholarship Programme whereby our best and brightest students are afforded an opportunity to pursue excellence in their chosen field of endeavor.

We will also take the first steps to establishing free university education to all our young people who qualify but their parents cannot afford the costs.  Better skills mean better jobs.  We must also modernize the classroom.  Expanded use of interactive educational tools and the Internet will help bring Guyanese classrooms into the cutting edge.

We will develop a series of milestones for our secondary education institutions to reach in one year and set forth a blueprint to bring the internet to every classroom by 2014.

Additionally, we will introduce competency based education and assessment standards for both students and teachers.  We will ensure that our teachers are the best trained and equally compensated with improved benefits for the task of educating our nation.

Tax Rates/VAT

The average business must pay 34 different taxes and spend over 288 hours per year dealing with a tangle of levies and taxes. This is unacceptable if we want to encourage our people as well as those abroad to start businesses here.  We must also look very seriously at lowering our corporate income tax below its current 35% rate.  In 2006, the island nation of Mauritius reduced its corporate income tax from 25% to 15% and saw their corporate tax revenue grow by 65% in two years.  We must also look very closely at reducing our 16% Value Added Tax (VAT) that was first introduced in 2007.

Faith Harding Administration will work to streamline tax codes for local and foreign investors, making it easier for all groups to do business with Guyana. We will summon a team of economic advisors to explore the option of lowering Guyana’s corporate income tax.  We will also institute a temporary advisory committee to explore the implications of reducing the Value Added Tax (VAT).

Oil and Gas Exploration

We’re so close to discovering black gold. The government has stated that an estimated 650 jobs will be created every year by this new industry.  We can do better.  We must seek the advice of our close neighbours, Trinidad & Tobago.  We must also make certain the country is not short-changed by oil companies, and that we protect our environment.  We will also have tough environment protections and set-up a legacy fund so that this one-time windfall will last for generations.

We will convene an economic forum featuring leading members of the oil industry in the region to seek advice and guidance as we embark on this new frontier.  Members of the new administration will begin the process of establishing a legacy fund to make sure our economy gains not only in the short term, but in the long term as well.  Finally, we will also look closely to make sure environmental protections are in place to keep our natural wonders safe and pristine.

Crime and Security

Crime is one of Guyana’s most pressing issues. It affects our business sector, the public sector, and private citizens. The murder rate throughout President Jagdeo’s 11-year term has been the highest in Guyana’s history. We must reverse this trend. As the new government, we will be tough on crime at all levels — from engaging our youth in productive employment, in reformative, rehabilitative and interactive development activities, to cleaning up the government and ending the culture of corruption that has pervaded Guyanese politics for too long.

We will set up a Presidential task force dedicated to finding the best solutions to stop Guyana’s escalating crime rate, and make our nation safe again with better trained and equipped police on our streets and more jobs for young people.

We will reform the security services in Guyana to make them more responsive to the problems that are confronting us.  We will actively seek assistance from any quarter to curb the unprecedented level of lawlessness that has taken over our country.

Opportunity Industrial Complexes

One of the greatest problems besetting our nation is the unacceptable level of unemployment and underemployment of our youth.  Clearly the lack of opportunity and the guidance necessary to reverse this is currently lacking.

We will establish Opportunity Industrial Complexes whereby our youth (up to 30 years old) will be trained to take bold steps in harnessing the resources of our country.  These Opportunity Industrial Complexes will be centered in various areas where specific resources are present so as to foster development of those resources.

Skill training in the areas of mining, agriculture, animal husbandry, and timber resource management will be at the forefront.  Additionally we will create the framework whereby suitable projects are funded.  Along with funding, we propose to involve a cadre of professionals to guide and oversee projects that are approved for inclusion in the Opportunity Industrial Complex.

One Stop Workforce Centers

The establishment of One-Stop Workforce Centers will serve to provide unemployed persons or those seeking to change professions with advice on opportunities, training, certification, and direction to where the best jobs are.  These centers will be located in all major population areas with at least one in each Region of Guyana.

Another function of these centers will be to pinpoint financing opportunities for entrepreneurs, and to assist them in preparing business plans, entity compliance, and loan applications.

Health and Welfare

The best barometer of a country’s success is the health of its people.  Guyana is no different than most of the rest of the world in that we are beset with problems in the health care sector.

First and foremost, we will institute training programs for healthcare workers.  There is no good reason that government cannot fulfill its mandate to provide healthcare to the citizens of Guyana from the cradle to the grave.

One new facet of healthcare that we will introduce is a programme of preventative medicine.  Care givers will be trained to educate the population in the areas of nutrition and proper exercise.  These programmes will be instituted nationwide with the singular purpose of making us a healthier nation.

Included in the new cadre of healthcare workers will be the reintroduction of a vibrant public health care system.  Sanitary inspectors, housing officers, and disease specialist will serve as the backbone of this system to ensure that public health issues are addressed.

 

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