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National Population and Housing Census will help to plan for migrants

Last Updated on Thursday, 8 September 2022, 7:54 by Denis Chabrol

President Irfaan Ali said the Guyana National Population and Housing Census is expected to guide government’s policy on, among other matters, the handling migrants.

Addressing the formal launch of the countrywide exercise which is scheduled to start on September 15, he indicated if the socio-economic and political crisis continues in  neighbouring Venezuela, nationals of that country may eventually opt to live in Guyana permanently.

“A lot of questions are asked. What will be our migration policy? What will be our national policy on meeting the labour requirements? What will be our immigration policy? Well guess what? This census is critical in allowing us to formulate those policies based on data,” he said.

The Guyanese leader also said that  given the number of Venezuelan migrants, which is to be determined by the census, that data would be used to plan for their medium to long-term presence in Guyana. “We are supporting this for the last two years and we project that the situation will not get better f0r the next three years or four years or five years; you’re talking about eight years and if you’re looking at human trends  when you are in a country for eight years, then you could basically assume that these people might become permanent residents of your country,” he said.

The Guyana government has repeatedly said that foreign workers would have to be imported to deal with a labour shortage. There are also Indians, Brazilians,  Chinese, Haitians and nationals of several African countries living in Guyana.

He pleaded with persons living in Guyana to cooperate to ensure a successful exercise to help government plan for them adequately, despite the fact that the data collection sheet might seem to be personally intrusive.

Dr Ali said the data from the census would also aid Guyana in assessing the impact of  investments in the social sectors such as education. He said the census was expected to arm government to address inequalities and disparities as well assess the impact of climate change on land use. “It is not just someone coming with a sheet of paper collecting data and that is the end of it. This is really the future,” he said.

The President also highlighted that the data to address issues such as transportation, income and livelihood patterns, as well as the planning for the new town, Silica City, on the Soesdyke-Linden Highway.

He said at some point Guyana would have to assess the Diaspora.