Ms. Henry chose to sensationalise the status of 11 Bangladeshis

Dear Editor,

I refer to a Stabroek News article captioned `Parliament committee flags large number of Haitians, Cubans unaccounted for” that was published on June 14, 2018.  I would like to specifically address the comments attributed to the Minister of Education Ms. Nicolette Henry.  She is quoted as asking “why emphasis was being placed on the number of Haitians not departing Guyana since if an analysis of the figures from a percentage perspective was conducted then it would show a 30% non-departure rate for persons from Bangladesh. `Why not the Bangladeshis?’”

It is extremely disturbing that the Minister of Education lacks elementary and basic training in primary school statistics, which advises on the concept of absolute changes vs. relative changes.  Absolute change refers to the difference between two indicators (2016 vs. 2017, arrivals vs. departure in a particular period and so on). Relative change expresses the absolute change as a percentage of the value of the indicators in the earlier period (Absolute change between 2016 and 2017 as a percentage of the 2016 values). 

If we are to use Ms. Henry’s logic that 30% of the Bangladeshis did not leave Guyana in 2017, then she must be professional enough to tell the full truth around this 30% because it translates to 11 Bangladeshis.  If one compares those 11 Bangladeshis who made themselves into illegal aliens in Guyana in 2017 to the other nationalities the picture is very different from the image Ms. Henry is trying to paint. Some 7,255 Cubans and 3,224 Haitians overstayed their time in Guyana in 2017 compared to these 11 Bangladeshis, so why is her focus on these 11 persons? Of the 12,585 illegal aliens from the records who are domiciled in Guyana in 2017, 83% of them or 10,479 persons are Cubans and Haitians.  But Ms. Henry chooses to sensationalize the status of 11 Bangladeshis as she presumably plays to the gallery quite unintelligently.

For any proper analysis to be done from these flows of foreigners through our ports of entry and departures, we must understand the trend over a period of time.  I chose 2 years for simplicity but it would be better to analyze a five-year flow of foreigners travelling through Guyana, which I intend to do later.

But even a two-year flow provided much pertinent information.  For example, there is a net reduction of Brazilians (155), Indians (75), Dominicans (DR) (55) and Bangladeshis (30) over 2016/2017 who choose to remain in Guyana illegally.   For good reasons, these people all are choosing to go some place else rather than remain in Guyana.  However, between 2016 and 2017 there has been a rapid expansion in the number of Cubans (5,315), Haitians (2,953) and Chinese (1,194) who are choosing to overstay their time in Guyana.  But Ms. Henry has no problem with the fact that thousands of Cubans, Haitians and Chinese broke the immigration Laws of Guyana in 2017, her obsession is with these 11 Bangladeshis.  I really wonder why?

I hope my small piece will start a more productive conversation, focused on real progressive patriotic policy changes and not on irrelevant and unintelligent nitpicking by uninformed policymakers like Ms. Henry.

Yours faithfully,

Sasenarine Singh

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