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Nepotism: The best and the brightest minds in Guyana are fleeing

March 1, 2013 1 comment

Dear Editor,
As nationals of Guyana, we have been concerned about how poorly employers, particularly the PPP regime, have used the human resources in the country.
For too long, this government has allowed the finest minds to be either underemployed or without any positive and active involvement in the country affairs.
Yet the state continues to expend significant amount of resources on educating the people and encouraging them to prepare themselves. To what end?
Let’s call a spade a spade! Almost daily, available jobs are usually advertised in the media and elsewhere by the government in order to satisfy some internal organizational protocol.
But government officials merely go through the fraudulent motions of an interview process when they have already decided who the holder of the position will be. And it is one of their supporters or relatives of high ranking PPP officials.
But the regime has the gall in these advertisements to let potential applicants know up front that they thank them for applying but do not have the decency to even acknowledge their applications let alone call them for an interview.
This is the scam that this regime has been involved in for years and it has caused unnecessary grief and pain after those who apply found out after what has happened. To use such a sinister ploy to deceive the nation indicates how low the administration has descended.
The fact is when the private sector engages in these acts, at least the consequence is personal, and shows up in their bottom line expense sheet.
But when the Government does the same, employing only friends and supporters of the PPP despite their lack of ability, qualifications experience and requisite skills, the entire nation suffers.
Let us be clear in saying that we have no difficulty whatsoever with the regime wanting to hire its party supporters and members or people of like thinking in critical policy areas so long as those persons are qualified to do the job.
But this has not been the case at the office of the President and at several other state agencies and departments which have employed hundreds of contract employees who are paid super salaries because they are the children, relatives and friends of the PPP cabal.
This is happening in a country where brain cells have gone on strike for an extended period and the loudest mouths in political campaigns are usually rewarded with the most influential positions.
This is wrong and the Jagdeo/ Ramotar cabal must stop this ignominious and dishonest practice if it is to regain the trust and confidence of the people.
The reality has been since Guyana attained its Independence on May 26, 1966, party purity and loyalty have become more important than to employ qualified and experience persons to carry the government tasks.
Once a political party wins, its candidates begin to circle the wagon of political power. The game is essentially about paying back those who made the win possible.
While the noble intentions of politics are “serving the people’s interests,” the first people usually served are those elected, that is, jobs for the boys.
The bigger question is why most of the educated Guyanese with college/university degrees are all over the world and not in Guyana.
The answer, we believe, is that we have never found a way as a society to harness and apply the best and brightness minds to address our nation’s challenges at any one time.
The real sadness of all this is that it does not matter where you come from in society, what your ethnicity is or whether you belong the PPP or the PNC, it was Guyana and the Guyanese taxpayers who have given you a start in life and have prepared you for wherever you now are.
Our continuous poor use of our most qualified personnel is tantamount to perpetrating an injustice on the country which has invested heavily through taxation, blood, sweat and tears in the development of its citizens.
With that said, we always held the view that the real issues we face in Guyana are not only corruption, poverty, crime, joblessness, illegal narcotics trafficking but also injustice! People all over the world have fought and died for their civil rights and against injustice, will Guyanese do!

Dr. Asquith Rose and
Harish S. Singh.

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Guyana is number 1 for college students fleeing their homeland

March 3, 2012 Leave a comment

Human Capital Flight
By STABROEK STAFF | EDITORIAL | SATURDAY, MARCH 3, 2012

Citizenship ceremonies in Canada and the United States are bittersweet occasions. Mixed with the joy of securing a foothold in the developed world, many newcomers are still struggling with unfamiliar languages and customs, minimum wage jobs, and inadequate accommodation within introspective ethnic enclaves. Even when these obstacles have been overcome there is still the longer task of establishing a hybrid identity within societies that often view outsiders with suspicion or hostility, and the mixed blessing of watching children assimilate to the new country with little sense of their parents’ ancestral homes. Many newcomers also have extended families waiting in the wings, hoping to be summoned to the imagined luxuries of life in North America. With all of this hanging over them, many immigrants become citizens with an equal measure of pride and anxiety.

Five years ago a World Bank study found that seven of the ten countries with the highest emigration rates for college students were in the Caribbean. Guyana held the unenviable top spot with a jaw-dropping 89 per cent. Those rates and the flight of human capital they indicate, the so-called ‘brain-drain,’ have undoubtedly worsened since, even though immigration to Europe, North America and elsewhere has become far more difficult. Two years ago another World Bank report found that nearly three-quarters of the nurses trained in the anglophone Caribbean end up working in the Britain, Canada or the United States.

The main reason for the brain-drain is obvious enough: highly skilled workers in the developing world earn a fraction of the salaries available elsewhere. Furthermore, the demand for their skills is always growing since countries that actively recruit skilled foreigners get talent, essentially, for free. From an economic perspective, targeted immigration is a form of outsourcing the education of hundreds of thousands of professionals. In fact, many developmental economists believe the savings developed countries accumulate through ‘human capital flight’ far exceed their aid budgets. This relationship will continue as long as the American dream remains intact. Last November, in a Munk Debate on “high unemployment and slow growth in North America,“ the risk analyst and political consultant Ian Bremmer pointedly asked: “Does it matter that millionaires in China, over 50% of them, want to live in the United States – not just send their kids over there, but actually live there? Yes, it does. Does that attraction of entrepreneurship and talent make a difference to the United States? Of course it does.”

Immigrants replenish aging societies with workers that contribute billions of tax dollars for parts of the welfare state that would otherwise falter, or collapse. (Just a week ago, census data in Canada indicated that two-thirds of population growth is driven by immigration. This figure is expected to rise to 80 per cent within 20 years.) Immigrants also bring diversity and cultural complexity to many mature democracies. Wherever ethnic identities jostle each other peacefully, they inevitably create new ways of doing business, new forms of culture, and even ways of practising politics and social justice. This benefits everyone. Perhaps a simpler way of measuring the benefits of assimilation is food: 20 years ago it was possible to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner at a different ethnic restaurant in Manhattan without returning to the same location for 11 years. Today that diversity is probably even greater. Who wouldn’t wish to live in such a cosmopolitan environment?

Given the odds stacked against us, what can countries like Guyana do? The online journal Inside Higher Ed recently profiled the efforts of two Guyanese – Paloma Mohamed and Vibert Cambridge – to tackle this question. To date, a key part of their success in reinvigorating tertiary education at the University of Guyana has been the use of contracts that oblige faculty members who earn foreign graduate degrees to repatriate their skills for a minimum of five years. This eminently sensible measure ought to be considered for all forms of skilled labour. Not only does it cleverly tweak the model of outsourcing education on behalf of wealthier countries, but it provides an opportunity for smaller countries chance to catch up on intellectual capital and best practices relatively quickly and inexpensively. This exchange is far more rewarding than the billions wasted annually on well-intentioned but impractical developmental aid. Human capital will always remain highly mobile in a globalized world, but throughout the Caribbean we can and should do much more to make use of our highly skilled workers before they seek a better life elsewhere.