Is there really an economic downturn? – By Adam Harris – commentary
There is talk that Guyana is slipping backward; that young people are not getting jobs. The part of jobs for young people may be true, but it is not that the jobs are not there. There are young people who are intelligent and literate, but the problem is that they are choosy when it comes to certain jobs.
I had stated before that many years ago all people wanted to do was to get a toe in the door. Other jobs will come later. That is when people can change. That is what people do in the developed world. The stories are many about people starting in one area and later changing.
My late friend Walter Willis started as a teacher, as I did. The story is the same for people like Vic Insanally and Rupert Roopnaraine.
I notice the praise being showered on the Guyana Police Force, but that did not come easy. Today’s detectives are high school graduates who did very well at CXC and CSEC. They all might have wanted to work as clerks, but they grabbed the first opportunity to come their way.
They may go on to become lawyers in the same way Guyanese who head to the United States enter the army, because at the end of the day they will get funding to further their education and go on to become anything.
I have interviewed some of the young people and found them wanting. They do not read nor do they even attempt to further their education after they leave school.
In some cases many are found wanting. A former Education Minister Dale Bisnauth once said that the University of Guyana is producing some functional illiterates.
President David Granger himself said that the drive is on to get children back in schools so that they could develop the tools to make them useful members of society.
As for the economy, it depends on who is talking. If I am accustomed to undervaluing my imports and so maximize the profits on my investments, then when I have to pay the real cost my profit drops I complain about a decline in business.
This past week another entrepreneur pointed to the slowdown in construction. He said that many people are not building because they do not have the money. Then he said something interesting. He said that he was one who went ahead and constructed his building without receiving the necessary permission.
He said that many people did that. The fact is that when the illegalities are restricted there must be a slowdown. It has nothing to do with the economy. I remember Forbes Burnham allowing some things to be smuggled in. The result is that they were retailed cheaply. People concluded that things were cheap.
Dr Cheddi Jagan came in, plugged some of the holes, and suddenly the price of certain imported products jumped. And to crown it all, I am not hearing these complaints from the people who are affected. But I do hear the complaints of the young people.
It would be interesting to hear from the taxi services. They are the people who know when money starts to slowdown. They get fewer calls. I would expect them to say that they peaked during the jubilee. The minibuses are not affected, except when the school children are not there to boost the fares.F
or a country with a sluggish economy the cricket ground at the Providence Stadium was crowded for the four days that the Caribbean Premium League was played here. Sales were good for all those who operated there.
But we would all like to see more. What is it that we want to see, I am not sure. Perhaps we would all like more money in our pockets because we just want to party more. Traditionally the night spots all have the days when they would rake in money. They all have their clientele.
I see the price of gold is climbing again, so I can imagine that there will be another spurt in social life. I remember when cocaine flowed. People partied all the time. There were those who carried the guns as they strutted and shared money in the same way Santa Claus shares toys. That sparked the belief that cocaine was fuelling the economy.
Former President Bharrat Jagdeo was pressed to debunk the belief. He insisted that his economic policies were bearing fruit. Later, the international experts insisted that cocaine provided a healthy boost.
Yet we keep seeing families struggling to make ends meet. That is so in every country because there are always people who will be on the fringe of society. It is so in every country. Guyanese are still boarding planes to head to foreign destinations on vacation.
A few years ahead there will be oil. I can imagine what Guyana will be. For certain, given the focus on the Sovereign Wealth Fund there should be responsible Government activity. I am a bit on the old side, but I will enjoy the fruits. I intend to be around, so I am taking care of myself.