The income gap in Guyana must be a matter of concern to policy-makers. It is difficult to understand how someone could exist in Guyana on a minimum wage of $50,000 a month or the equivalent of just over US$200.00. The minimum wage in the private sector is significantly lower, especially for those who are employed in the security and commercial sectors as guards and store attendants.
The fact is that regardless of one’s station in life, there are certain minimum requirements that must be met if people are to satisfy their basic needs such as food, housing and clothing. To this must be added the need for some form of entertainment. Human beings are culture bearing animals and there is also that need to satisfy cultural predispositions.
The point I am seeking to establish is that it is not possible for anyone to satisfy at the minimal level the full extent of human needs at the current income levels. This is a structural problem which has to do primarily with a capitalistic mode of production and distribution in which profits are placed ahead of people and their cultural and material needs. Something must be fundamentally wrong with a reward system in which nearly half of the world’s population is condemned to an income of less than US$3.00 per day.
I believe that it is not the lack of resources that is responsible for the pervasive poverty level in the world but rather the manner of expropriation in which capital is disproportionately rewarded at the expense of labour. There is need for a new global architecture in which more is allocated to the satisfaction of the material and cultural needs of the labouring class and less to the military and weapons of mass destruction. The savings which accrue from such unnecessary spending could go a far way in alleviating poverty levels and provide a much better quality of life for the deprived many.
I believe that no one ought to be deprived of an opportunity to succeed in life because of a lack of money. The state has a responsibility to ensure that every individual is provided with an opportunity to grow and develop to the full limit of their potential and not on the basis of the size of their purse. Sadly, this is not the case for the vast majority of the world’s population.
This is why the call for a New Global Human Order as envisaged by the late Dr Cheddi Jagan has resonated so well with people all across the globe. It is for the Government of Guyana to intensify efforts at the United Nations to push ahead with its implementation following its adoption by the UN General Assembly a few years ago.