November 28, 2007

WORKERS HAVE NO INCENTIVE TO WORK

Posted in Guyana, Messages tagged , , , at 6:25 pm by randallbutisingh

WORKERS HAVE NO INCENTIVE TO WORK

(This article was written some 20 years ago, when the Guyana dollar was devalued to 115 to 1, during the Presidency of Desmond Hoyte, after the government came under IMF control and where the sudden currency devaluation had a damaging effect on the wages of workers and pensioners. Here is my article written in 1987 followed by a 2007 update.

1987: Guyana analysis by Randall Butisingh

“Today there are more Guyanese domiciled abroad than there are in GuyanaToday, workers are still not being paid a living wage. The country is strangled by inflation.  Many Guyanese would like to return to their country to serve, but the climate is not conducive for that.

“PEOPLE are the most precious resource of any nation.  In Guyana massive migrations have eroded not only the muscle of the nation, but also the fertile top-soil of brain and spirit.  Because of this, the work force has been downgraded into mediocrity and incompetence.  The University, a free institution in one of the poorest countries of the world has been manufacturing brains for export to other countries where there is a better standard of living.

“To make matters worse, the high cost of living and the inflationary trend have rubbed salt into the wounds of the suffering worker, who, through no fault of his own, is reeling under the impact of a starvation wage..

“Poverty is a crime in the sense that anything short of a living wage will breed corruption and evils of all sorts. And in a country, where the value of the dollar is dictated by private cambios, and the price of rice is allowed to soar because of unhealthy competition, there are harder times ahead for the consumer.

“This is a moral as well as a financial crisis, and individuals, groups and organisations cannot remain neutral; they need to cry out and bring pressure to bear on the system.  If they do not, they will, in the words of Hugh Wharton, have to resign themselves to a process of slow death.

 2007: Guyana Update by Randall Butisingh:
I am now 95  years old and like many Guyanese, am no longer living in Guyana. However, with the Internet and on-line newspapers as well as visits there, I do have a good idea of the situation. In reviewing this old letter for this BLOG. I am truly amazed that how little has changed in 20 years as regards the plight of workers – workers are still not being paid a living wage.

 The US dollar exchange is now 200-1; the people are still leaving in droves; the University is still creating graduates for export as 80% go overseas within five years. The recently implemented 16% Value Added Tax imposed by IMF pressures has created even higher inflation. People on fixed incomes and pensions suffer most in such situations. No wonder the sugar workers, and civil servants like teachers, nurses, police and military, are so discontented, and are demanding higher wages. Where can be the incentive to work when the pressures of daily living are so stressful and almost overpowering?  Is this not the process of slow death as was quoted in 1987?

 Guyana may now have improved infrastructure, better roads and inflows of remittances from Guyanese overseas. These remittances keep the economy afloat and are the greatest foreign exchange earners and they  may also help in preventing widespread discontent. However, people are a country’s greatest resource, and as I said some 20 years ago, the system of low wages, low output and a dysfunctional economy where the best brains and trained people are emigrating, does not auger well for the future.

 Randall Butisingh  (rbutisingh@hotmail.com)

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