There are two crucial issues which remain to be tackled in this series on inequality and poverty in contemporary Guyana.
Introduction This week I complete my presentation of Piketty’s recent paradigm- shifting contribution to the study of income and wealth inequality (Capital in the 21st Century), which I had introduced last week.
Introduction Last week’s column sought to make it very clear that, in my view, Guyana’s burgeoning inequality and poverty are the direct products of decisions and collective choices made by the ruling cabal of politicians, controllers of criminal networks, economic and financial rogues, and other marauders, who as I have indicated, consider themselves not only ‘too big to jail’ but also destined by the gods to rule Guyana.
In today’s column I propose to take last week’s discussion concerning the impact of massive wage and salary spreads along with the prevalence of the phantom economy on Guyana’s inequality and poverty one step further, through engaging an important emerging global line of thought on these matters.
Absolute v relative poverty This week I shall follow up on three matters related to last week’s discussion of poverty and inequality in the context of Guyana’s growth, joblessness and the minimum wage.
Introduction Over the past two weeks I have been displaying a Table that I had specifically constructed for this series indicating: 1) the annual public sector nominal minimum wage increases announced by government for the years 2006 to 2013.When these are adjusted for annual price increases (inflation) it is revealed these increases had only grown annually by about one percent on average.
Introduction Last week I introduced a Table showing that, over the eight years 2006 to 2013, the average net annual increase in the public sector minimum wage (adjusted for annual inflation) was shockingly low, about one percent.
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.
Inequality and poverty are independent though symbiotically related forces driving Guyana’s political economy.
Introduction The class of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) human development indicators is an intellectual derivate of the deprivation of basic needs approach, to poverty assessment discussed last week.
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.
Introduction In Guyana, inequality and poverty have a lot to do with people’s perception of these.
Inequality results As indicated, this week I begin with reporting the key results of official studies that sought to measure inequality and poverty in Guyana.
This week’s column offers readers a simplified and hopefully accurate description of the methods/techniques employed in official studies of inequality and poverty in Guyana.
Introduction For this and several columns to come, I shall be discussing a number of independent but related topics, under the broad theme of inequality and poverty in Guyana.
The Preliminary Census 2012 attributes the coastland’s smaller household size to an increase in single parent households, but this needs to be examined.
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.
Introduction This week’s column continues the discussion of the Bureau of Statistics (BoS) Preliminary Population and Housing Census Report for 2012.
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.
Last week’s column considered whether Guyana should support national debt relief as compensatory payment from slave-owning European countries to slave descendants residing in the region.
Introduction At the request of several readers today’s column will evaluate the proposal which is finding favour in several highly-indebted Caricom countries for the payment of slavery reparations by the former slave-owning countries to slave descendants in the region, to be made in the form of national debt relief.
Introduction Alongside the debates about the roles/functions of government in the Guyana economy, there has been another equally enduring economic debate as to whether presently the government is too big, too little, or just about right-sized.
Introduction Thus far I have identified two of what have been described in the economic literature as the “four essential roles or functions governments perform in the economy.” There has been firstly, government spending on goods and services.
Introduction Last week’s column ended my extended presentation on the state of the sugar industry, which had begun on January 5 of this year.
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.
Today’s column examines the fourth and last of the ‘other proposals,’ which aim at finding a way forward for the sugar industry.
Privatization This week I shall continue with the presentation of the second and third ‘other proposals.’ The call for the privatization of GuySuCo is probably the most widely recognized and indeed contentious proposal ever put forward for the future of the sugar industry.
Introduction Starting today I shall focus on the way forward for Guyana’s sugar industry.
Introduction Historically the sugar industry developed in Guyana because of its favourable agro-climatic coastal features.
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.
Introduction The serious weaknesses and massive underperformance of Guyana’s sugar industry during the past two to three decades were revealed in previous columns, through an evaluation of six standard performance measures that are routinely applied to the assessment of sugar industries.
This week I begin with a wrap-up discussion of factory performance measures as revealed at the level of the eight individual estates.
This week’s column concludes consideration of the sugar industry’s land productivity measure; that is tonnes cane (TC) per hectare (HA) of harvested land.
Culture of losses GuySuCo is a state-owned corporation. Readers already have in their possession firm details of how deeply mired it is in what I have termed “a sea of losses and indebtedness” (annual losses of about $6 billion and outstanding debt of $90 billion in 2013).
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.
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.
In this week’s column I intended to conclude the evaluation of costs as a performance indicator.
I had reported a few weeks ago in this series data comparing the unit cost of sugar production for Caricom producers in 2005.
Last week’s column introduced six performance indicators for the sugar industry, which I will examine in coming weeks: production, costs, profitability, land productivity, factory productivity, and combined (land and factory) productivity, in that order.
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.
Before starting an assessment of the key performance indicators for the Guyana sugar industry, two issues need to be addressed.
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.
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.
Introduction The world sugar prices for the period 1960 to 2013, which I presented last week, were formed in the ‘free market,’ where the sugar bought and sold is not subject to governmental regulation and control.
This week’s column wraps up my presentation on the long-term situation of the global sugar industry, which as I have argued stands in stark contrast to that of Guyana’s.
Examining the last century or so of the industrial life cycle of Guyana’s sugar industry, it is observed that the period up to the late 1960s and early 1970s marked the phase of its maturity.
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.
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.
Introduction Last week I drew readers’ attention to the far more potent threat facing tax evaders and money launderers operating in and through Guyana, than the activities of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and its regional counterpart, the Caribbean Financial Task Force (CFATF).
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.