Highly paid jobs are the best answer to poverty not handouts

Dear Editor,

I wish to reply to a speech delivered by Professor Clive Thomas on the 5th August, 2018 to an East Coast Community audience and reported in your newspaper, yesterday.  He said: “I don’t think giving cash transfers to persons are a waste of resources. If you look at the evidence, cash transfers are the single most effective means of combating poverty.”

With respect, editor, Professor Clive Thomas lives in the past.  He wants to give “handouts” to the poor when we get the oil and gas money. But all the experiences have shown, graphically, as in Trinidad and other parts of the underdeveloped world, where oil has been produced, that it is not the best way forward towards a brighter future for our youths, underemployed and the long-term unemployed. Highly paid jobs are the best answer to our poverty.

 The emphasis on education, personally promoted by the President, with the ramping up of specialised training in the varying agro-industrial and other potential growth industries – like the creation of a mini oil refinery – is the only sound and sustainable way to empower our citizens and prepare them for the 21st century global economy.

Everyone in Guyana – with a population of less than a million people – can be gainfully employed, if a dynamic economic policy and programme is pursued. Professor Thomas and the AFC leadership have sat on their hands and prevented the regularisation of Hemp, which could yield 10 times that of rice.

 Let me let the “cat out of the bag”. It was Dr. Clive Thomas, who put together the final touches to the Coalition Manifesto, which outlines a “reformed economic programme”, which would have laid the basis for full employment, if it was implemented.  But the professor has not sought to get the fundamentals in place, after three long years. In fact, the reverse has taken place. 

 The economy has slumped due to the lack of implementation of our economic programme that would have seen the complete revival of the agriculture sector – making the rice industry among the best in the world – empowering the poor peasants and putting an end to the super-exploitation by the rice-milling class.

 With the re-establishment of an industrial bank, GAIBANK; the setting up of the rice stabilisation fund; a massive drainage and irrigation programme – farmers and young people would have been laughing. What the AFC has done over the last 3 years – is an assault on our agriculture sector – killing the initiative of our industrious farmers and their farming hands. Khemraj Ramjattan, Raphael Trotman and the AFC must pay dearly at the upcoming LGE polls for this act of selecting the wrong people in cabinet to administer our human and material resources in the interest of all Guyanese, not the few at the top of society.

 The wilful closure of Wales Estate by minister, Noel Holder and PM Nagamootoo – is nothing more than economic sabotage.  During the period of this government, more than 4000 sugar workers have lost their jobs, all due to the lack of knowledge by leading members of this administration of “how to transform agriculture” from a mono crop to a diverse entity – based on our indigenous traditions of Co-operativism and self-help. Where are the lands that PM Nagamootoo promised the sugar workers?

 Neither, Dr. Clive Thomas, nor Moses Nagamootoo, has had the experience of managing any economic enterprise. They write and they talk a lot. But that is not in, itself, a qualification required to manage a country. Talk is cheap, it is proven to be. 

Dr. Thomas, as Chairman of the State-run sugar corporation, said nothing when those sugar estates – in Wales and later in Berbice – were arbitrarily closed – offering no future to the backbreaking sugar workers and their families.

 Guyana needs good managers at all levels of our society. These politicians are no good for our country’s growth and development.

Yours faithfully,

M Jinnah Rahman 

Co-chair

Rice Producers Association Action

Committee

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