Guyana – “Anxious to leave” – commentary and paper on migration

Anxious to leave… ( also see paper on migration at the end)

Guyana map

Click map to enlarge


Guyana: It has been reported in the not too distant past that close to 80 per cent of the country’s skilled people migrate.

This certainly paints a gloomy picture for the future. It means that we are getting considerably less for investments in human development; training people is a very costly exercise.

Indeed, for as long as we could remember we have been producing our own teachers, nurses, skilled artisans and the like. Such was our training regimen that all those who graduated were good enough to work in any part of the world.

There was a time when the cost of living was such that we were content to stay and serve. But there was always the lure of life overseas. 

That lure now has so many of us leaving that we cannot train people fast enough and even those we train are never good enough because their foundation was rather weak. Things had even reached the stage where we were forced to lower the entrance qualifications to our top learning institutions.

What makes it worse is that all those who leave seem to have very good reasons. People can now say that they left because of the crime. In the past they said that they were running from a dictatorship. Some even left because, as they said, they were the victims of discrimination.

What we do not hear a lot of is the migration of people because they are dissatisfied with the pay. This was the talk for most of the time as recruiters came from every part of the world to solicit skilled people from Guyana.

Our decision-makers are wise enough to realize that they cannot stop the outward flow of the skilled people. They also say that they cannot match the financial rewards offered elsewhere. But there must be something that we could do. It is a given that we do not have the money to recruit foreign skills to replace those that we have lost.

Many countries have been able to secure foreign funding to help them replace the lost skills and the people from those territories do not migrate in the numbers like we have been doing.

Foreign investment would also help reduce the brain drain, but there must be something that the government must do. It must allow the foreign investor to pay the kind of wages that the investor feels is real.

Until recently, the government often dictated to the investor the kind of money that he should pay to avoid a conflict within the society. What is considered a fair pay in most societies would be seen as super salaries in Guyana, given the low value of our currency.

But even before the investor comes a lot has to happen in Guyana. One of the things is political stability. By no stretch of imagination can we say that we have a stable political climate in Guyana.

Every time it seems as though something is going to happen to make the climate stable someone or some event serves to widen the rift between the parties. This does little or no good and certainly no reputable foreign investor is going to come. Without these foreign investors the economy is going to slide further downhill and our skilled persons would continue to leave at a high rate.

What is most worrying is that no one seems to be doing anything to effect a change in our condition. The situation is still that taxes account for the bulk of our revenue which means that the very people who are complaining about poor pay and who are anxious to leave, would be asked to contribute more of that small pay to the national coffers by way of taxation.

At the same time, the cost of the utilities is rising. The electricity company often signals higher rates, citing the rising cost of fuel, and the same applies to water and transportation.

Some say that we are witnessing the death of Guyana as we know it. Unless something drastic happens they may be right.

For your information:

Paper on the history of migration as it relates to Guyana

Guyana Population Movement and Societal Development – By Lomarsh Roopnarine

The following article analyses Guyanese migration and the society from its historical beginnings to the current contemporary period. In doing so, three broad patterns of Guyanese migration are identified: (1) old world migration; (2) intra-regional migration; (3) extra-regional and return migration. The article argues that these migration patterns are inadequately documented and analysed. The approaches are not as convincing as published works on Guyanese migration reveal discontinuity and fragmentation. It is not certain how the different patterns of migration have shaped Guyanese society. For example, why has Guyana changed from an importer to an exporter of people following the decades of the twentieth century? Or, which of the patterns of migration have had the most profound and pronounced impact on Guyanese society. This article attempts to bring a more nuanced analysis of Guyanese migration, among other themes.
Download : Guyana Population Movement and Societal Development


— Guyanese Online Post = #4200

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  • Rosaliene Bacchus  On 08/30/2014 at 2:26 pm

    Cyril, thanks so much for sharing this article.

  • Deen  On 08/30/2014 at 8:53 pm

    The death knell of Guyana, in addition to the exodus of its skilled and educated people, is the disunity and dismay among the people and its poor political leadership.
    With its current state of corruption, mismanagement of its industries: sugar, gold mining, logging, etc,, the dissension in municipal government, and the distrust among the people in terms of law and order, Guyana’s economic progress and political stability seem most improbable.
    I’m an optimist, but where Guyana is concerned the combination of negative elements that continue to prevail provides the chemistry for increasing distress and further decay.

  • gigi  On 08/31/2014 at 12:51 am

    Fascinating read. Remittances make up 20% of Guyana’s GDP to the tune of U$30,000,000+ annually. That’s a sizable chunk that the Guyana economy cannot afford to lose. My son laughs that his annual salary in Thailand is less than what his monthly salary would be in America. Yet he enjoys a more comfortable life because his money goes further, particularly since he is a minimalist who likes simple living (I guess it comes from him being an environmental engineer and seeing, firsthand, the devastating impact of human consumption and materialism on the environment).

    This historic revelation of Guyana should convince the overwhelming majority of Guyanese that the regressive policies under the PNC dictatorship should ensure that it is never again allowed to “win” any elections. The PNC has deprived Guyana from becoming a successfully developed and vibrant country, displacing its citizens, exposing them to exploitation, and continuing to shame them in front of the international community with their ugly, nasty, crass, crude, vulgar, uncouth and other distasteful behaviors. Go away…for good!

    • Albert  On 09/01/2014 at 2:34 pm

      You are still living in a past world. I wish this present sleepy opposition had the smarts of Burnham. Guyana political world would have been more exciting and these corrupt guys would be a lot more worried.

  • sean.mohamed  On 08/31/2014 at 9:09 am

    YES i am really happy that the Guyanese Government is slowly waking up,it is not the skill and educated Guyanese problem, it is our Government and Minister of the Government, Guyanese well qualified cannot get a good job in Guyana and if they do get a second job the salary is not enough , so if you have a family tell me how you will be able to feed/cloth and educate your children in Guyana, Cost a living in Guyana in very high and the wages always remain the same, so the Guyanese people like myself just move to countries where they can live happily get good jobs with good wages and good education for their children,
    Do not blame the Guyanese people, i told your President when he came to Canada, i told the late C B Jagan when he was leading Guyana i was a student that time but Guyanese Leaders are all for them selves, they never think about the people of Guyana. like all leaders lots of promises before the Election but after they never help anyone, i left Guyana in 1960 and went to U.K. why because i cannot find a good job in GUYANA ,every Guyanese have to join the P.N.C. Party before they can get food and a good job in Guyana, that i why thousands of Guyanese left Guyana for a better life and better Education, some of them never want to hear about Guyana, because we all know that Guyana will never become a good country to live like the old B.G. those were the best day for all Guyanese, soon their will be no one in Guyana with a sound Education, so they will have to take all the uneducated Guyanese to do their jobs and that will kill the economy of Guyana, it started a very long time ago, but some Guyanese are now waking up and seeing reality, advise the Government to change their way of life, change mentality, strategy , but i personally do not think that Guyana will ever be better in the future, this is my view as a born Guyanese, this ship is already sunk….thank you….D.J.SEAN….

  • Rosaliene Bacchus  On 08/31/2014 at 3:42 pm

    Thank you Dr. Lomarsh Roopnarine for your excellent and interesting article on the historical development and analysis of Guyana’s population movement.

    Considering that an estimated 400,000 to 500,000 Guyanese reside overseas, contributing 20 percent of Guyana’s Gross Domestic Product, Guyana should think of itself as a transnational nation with its peoples in constant flux.

    Thus far, this constant flux has allowed Guyana to survive as a nation, albeit with its negative side effects. Over time, this constant flux will provide Guyana with flexibility for adaptation in an ever-changing globalized world.

    God bless Guyana and God bless the transnational people of Guyana.

  • de Castro compton  On 09/01/2014 at 5:59 am

    I share your sentiments and your ‘self belief’ but question
    ‘transnational’ thesis.
    Change succumbrom within influenced by what happens inside
    Guyana….not outside.
    The only way change will occur is ‘politically’…by the electorate within. Given the demographics with more eligible voters living
    outside Guyana cannot see that change happening …yesterday
    tomorrow next decade….and I am usually optimistic !
    Until the status quo politically and economically is
    removed Guyana remains a ‘failed state’….today !

    Sad but realism bites ! Must live in hope or succumd to ‘despair’ !
    My regulated spill

  • de Castro compton  On 09/01/2014 at 6:01 am

    Change must come from within influenced……etc etc

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