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OPINION: The problems of prosperity

Last Updated on Sunday, 7 November 2021, 14:55 by Denis Chabrol

by Abu Bakr

It is with great concern that I read  some days ago that VP Jagdeo has been considering the need for immigration to satisfy our employment deficit as oil money flows in to finance infrastructure and other work. It is a conditionto which I have been giving thought.

We have a small population and our situation is similar in many ways to that of the United Arab Emirates and other Middle Eastern countries. Eighty percent of the population in the Emirates is now made up of mostly Indian and Pakistani nationals. There are Ugandans and Kenyans and  some Africans, but the Sindhis and Gujaratis and Balochis have gone in great numbers to work in the construction idustry in Dubai.

A resumption of indentureship (for that is essentially what it is) from India and  Africa to Guyana has to be treated with the same care expressed by locals at the turn of the 20th century when a plan was hatched to start Indian colonisation of then British Guiana. 

Of course we have to consider that the Sindhis and Gujaratis etc are experienced businesmen and any local content legislation has got to carefully define local and do like the Emiratis and Saudis, insist that a local counterpart and associate be named before any business is registered in the country. We can limit it to certain sectors of the country.

The political consequences have to be calculated. Fiftty thousand Hindus with full rights  would mean that the demographic advantage that Indians have in the past enjoyed would be reestablsihed. We need to do what happened in the Dominican Republic or Panama or Curacao in the previous century…recruit West Indians.

Some of the socio political aspects of this immigration must be considered. Will the immigrants and their children get voting rights and full citizenship? As a nation with a huge diaspora we want to ensure that we avoid the absurdities suffered by some immigrants in some countries and re-think the Caricom privileged status  given to fellow Black Caribbeans.

Trinidadians have not stopped talking about the entry of Vincentians as a possible electoral advanatage tha Eric Williams had.

The entry of Haitians here that was considered by the People’s National Congress (PNC) in the past, and Dr Jagan’s objections, will have to be considered also.

But the fact is that we Guyanese cannot board up our countrty when it is now in a position to grant its neighbours the relief that its own citizens sought for half a centurty.The People’s Progressive Party and the PNC have got to agree on a method that would satisfy everyone prior to the first boat load arriving.

The Dutch imported a lot of labour from the Caribbean when they were building refinieries and other stuff in the Caribbean. But the rules ensured that the natives went for three or five years ad they had to leave. Panama is another type of immigration, with thousans of Jamaicans  resident there for generations after they were first employed to dig the Canal.

A technical body, specislising in the socio- cultural consequences of this move has to be set up and a study undertaken, or we end up like Britain or France,  needful of immigrant workers for the post war reconstruction, and heartlessly rejectful now that the need is past.

I imagine that A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU×AFC) would have ideas ready and responses to Mr . Jagdeo’s ideas whe it comes to Parliament.

We await the debates with great interest. 

Mr Abu Bak’r is a former journalist