The Minimum Wage, Trade Unions and Guyana’s Fight against Surging Inequality and Poverty

Introduction   To be brutally frank upfront, without 1) strong independent trade unions pushing for national real minimum wage increases, the payment of living wages and the provision of substantial job programmes 2) a considerable strengthening of class-based ideology and politics among political actors and worker representatives 3) rising public awareness and consciousness (fuelled by public advocacy arising from evidence- based analyses), the struggle against grinding inequality and poverty in Guyana is as good as lost.

Basic needs and poverty as deprivation

Challenges My last column noted that poverty measures based on income/consumption surveys, like the previously considered World Bank 1992, UNDP1999, and the HIES 2006 surveys have been seriously challenged by several analysts.

Internal population shifts Census 2012

Biggest challenges Thus far, discussion of the 2012 Preliminary Census has focussed on 1) the population decline over the intercensal period 2002-2012; 2) the effect of outward migration; 3) estimating what the population might have been if it were not for item 2; and 4) making the inference, based on the preliminary data that high levels of brain drain (observed in previous intercensal periods) persisted.

Guyana’s recent population bombshell

Introduction The Bureau of Statistics’ (BoS) Preliminary Population and Housing Census Report for 2012 announced a decline in the population from 751,223 persons at the 2002 Census to 747,884 persons.

The way forward for sugar

The way forward for sugar Part 1   Introduction In this column and next week’s, I shall undertake the final task in this series on Guyana’s sugar industry.

Guysuco’s Key Challenges – I

Introduction Before considering options for the way forward in the sugar industry, I shall first examine challenges posed by its underperformance as revealed in the behaviour of the standard performance measures since the 1990s as well as last week’s analysis of Guysuco’s predicament.

Turning the spotlight on GuySuCo’s losses

Introduction   When evaluating Guysuco’s profitability and/or losses as a performance indicator the conclusion reached was that the corporation has been “mired in a sea of losses and indebtedness since the 2000s.” The proposition was therefore advanced that its survival as a sustainable commercial venture rests squarely on its ability to earn regular accounting profits.

GuySuCo: Mired in a sea of losses and bailouts

From a dynamic perspective, over the medium to long-term the profitability of the sugar industry as a whole, and GuySuCo in particular, is more than any other variable, the best representative indicator of its sustainability as a commercial venture.

Guyana’s Sugar Industry: Six Key Performance Indicators

Indicators Despite the unavailability of detailed audited GuySuCo accounts after 2009, in the coming weeks I shall focus on six performance indicators (production, costs, profitability, land productivity, factory productivity, and combined (land and factory) productivity) in assessing the sugar industry since 1990.

Guyana: Export markets for sugar

I had earlier cautioned readers to be sceptical of the widely held view that the European Community’s (EC) denunciation of the Sugar Protocol (SP) in 2009 was “the final nail in the coffin of Guyana and the rest of Caricom’s sugar industry.”  I have put forward the alternative interpretation that this event was the proximate occurrence leading to the effective collapse of the region’s traditional sugar industry, and in no way either the sole or principal cause for that collapse.

Caricom: Contrasting responses to the sugar crisis

King Sugar As indicated previously, several analysts view the EC’s legal denunciation of the Sugar Protocol (SP) in 2009 as the “final nail in the coffin of Guyana and the rest of Caricom’s sugar industry.” That event has been held mainly, if not solely responsible for today’s crisis in the region’s sugar industry.

Guyana’s sugar: Its industrial life cycle and collapse

Introduction   As testimony to the present dire state of Guyana’s sugar industry and its continued importance to the socioeconomic, political, and cultural life of the country, last week I began a third series of columns on this topic in the space of only three years.

The Guyana sugar industry: The point of no return

Tipping point Alarmed at the crisis state of the sugar industry in 2011, I devoted more than a score of Sunday columns in that year (May 29 to October 16) to its discussion and drew attention to the crying need for radical reform and restructuring.

From the frying pan into the fire: Money laundering in Guyana and the tightening grip of the US tax evasion regime

Introduction   If perchance any reader might have had doubts about the serious intent of the United States as it opens a new front against tax evasion and money laundering, under its Foreign Account Tax Compli-ance Act, 2010 (FATCA), he or she should ponder the pointed remarks made by a Senior United States Treasury official (Robert Stark) on September 2013: “Offshore tax evasion is a significant contributor to the tax gap.” As a result of this, FATCA is designed: “To establish a process for foreign financial institutions (FFIs) to report information about their US account holders to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).” The IRS has further stated its objective very clearly: “It is to catch tax evaders.” When considered carefully, the implications of this development for Guyana are stunning in the extreme.

Measuring the value of money laundering

Introduction As indicated last week that column was prompted by the seemingly orchestrated public statements by private organizations, steps being taken by the US Treasury against tax evasion in the region as well as diplomatic and other pressures brought to bear on the parliamentary “opposition.” All this supposedly in the expectation that it would accede to the legislative amendments before the Special Select Committee and therefore not pursue “the goal of effective money laundering reform” designed to reduce the economic burden this deep-seated problem heaps on the country.

Guyana money laundering

Conclusion   This week’s column indicates the remaining markers that go along with the strategic guideposts provided earlier for a way forward in dealing with Guyana’s situation in regard to money laundering, the financing of terrorism and proliferation.