June 25, 2017

Govt has done very little to create new jobs, investments

…living off of past investment initiatives, says Jagdeo

Business Minister Dominic Gaskin

The parliamentary Opposition is contending that after being in office for over two years, the coalition Government has done little to create new jobs as it inherited most of the major job creating-investments currently in place.

Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo took a swing at the Government when he questioned what new jobs were being created by the Administration, noting that most major investments currently contributing to Guyana’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and creating jobs were brought in under the People’s Progressive Party (PPP).

“Almost every single (investment they have,) they’ve inherited. This Government has done nothing new to create jobs since it took office. After criticising us for selling out the land on the public road at Liliendaal, we see now a major construction activity going on there (Movietown),” Jagdeo said at a recent press conference.

“And after criticising us about the land policy in relation to the Marriott Hotel, there’s a structure there today that this Government enjoys. And Teleperformance started under the PPP. And now the latest thing is Qualfon campus. That land was given by the PPP to Qualfon to construct that facility, as a result of which you got a US$5 million investment and a thousand Guyanese will be employed there. What have they done?”

Jagdeo pointed to the recent investment conferences in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom that have been attended by President David Granger, Business Minister Dominic Gaskin and other senior officials.

“The President goes off on investment conferences, not a single investment. We’ve had investment conferences to Miami, Canada, London; (and) nothing materialises out of these frequent visits abroad. They’re living off of past investments and past flows, not creating new values or new jobs.” The Opposition Leader added that two of the thriving gold fields along with the oil and gas sector investments were all negotiated under the PPP Administration.

“What have they done? They’ve not done anything. They have no plans for the future because when you ask them, they’re still working on plans for the future. This is their third year in office,” Jagdeo asked.

Investments

Despite Guyana’s abundance of natural resources and acres of arable farm lands, the dire state of foreign direct investments in Guyana is one that even Minister Gaskin has acknowledged.

During the recent Heads of Mission conference in Guyana, Gaskin had told the gathering that Guyana had no investment opportunities to offer for the time being. He had noted that while the Guyana Office for Investment (GO-Invest) is promoting Guyana’s image, GO-Invest faces challenges.

“Investors generally want to know what specific projects we have for them to invest in. And we have none. And therefore we tend to lose the interest of the investor because there are other countries competing for those limited investment funds that have tangible investment projects to offer,” he said.

“So the truth is that right now we’re not speaking a language that investors are looking to hear. You may have noticed that for the most part investors are looking for some kind of partnership with the Government. That is their preference because it gives them the confidence and security they are looking for. This is especially so for foreign investors including Diaspora investors,” the Minister had added.

Jobs

Last year, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) revealed in its annual report that unemployment in Latin America and the Caribbean reached 8.1 per cent in 2016. This, ILO had said, represented the highest unemployment rate in a decade. And due to slow growth forecasts for 2017, the organisation had warned of a potential increase in the job less.

Since the rate was 1.5 per cent higher than the rate in 2015, they had adjudged that some five million people had joined the ranks of the unemployed.

There is no updated data at present on the rate of unemployment specific to Guyana. However, the Government has plans to conduct a Labour Force Survey in the second quarter of 2017.