October 9, 1996 DRAFT
II. Looking ahead to the Year 2006
A. Incomes, Employment and Production
B. Settlement Patterns and Basic Services
C. Citizen Participation in Affairs of the Economy and Society
[Back to Top]
Broad national objectives of a social and economic nature are discussed in Chapter 2, and those objectives are translated into more specific goals throughout Volumes II through VI. Chapter 5 presents the guiding orientations of policy that are necessary to facilitate achievement of the objectives, the compass headings that policy makers must use in order to reach the goals. This Chapter complements those discussions by presenting a vision of what Guyana might well look like ten years on if the Strategy's objectives are largely fulfilled.
This is not an exercise in quantitative projections -that is found in Chapters 14 and 16- but rather it is a brief essay in sketching out in approximate terms where we might be headed as a nation if we are successful in following the pathways laid out in the various components of this Strategy. It is certainly very incomplete; each Guyanese would have a personal vision of the future that is much more detailed and infused with richer tones. Nevertheless, it is an attempt to present in another kind of framework the directions in which this Strategy would take our nation.
It is necessarily an optimistic vision because the nature of our beings requires that we strive for positive outcomes. Realism tells us that we inevitably will fall short in some respects, but that is not the point: the margin of shortfall will be the less for our having made the effort, and in the doing we will have gained the immeasurable satisfaction of having given it our best.
[Back to Top]
[Back to Top]
Ten years is not a very long time, and it is always much shorter in retrospect than in prospect. The developments which occur over the next ten years will create a cumulative momentum of their own and create even greater change by 2016. This basic fact may be seen in the dynamics of income growth. To introduce a brief numerical reference, six percent annual growth of incomes per capita would mean that those incomes would be 179 percent of present levels (not quite double) by 2006 and 321 percent of present levels (more than triple) by 2016. If we could sustain that pace until 2026 (which some East Asian economies have done for the past thirty years), average incomes would be almost six times their present levels. In trying to lay out a consistent and robust course for the future, we are attempting to get onto a fast motorway where milestones slip by at an accelerating rate.
As we know, income growth is only a means for attaining satisfactions that are both more basic and of a higher order. But without it too many of our citizens would be condemned to an existence of drudgery, so it must be pursued in the making of policy for the nation. This kind of growth in incomes can be expected to lift the cloud of poverty from many of our lowest-income families. This will be especially true if the growth is export-driven, because most of our exporting sectors create substantial amounts of employment, and if SIMAP and the poverty-alleviation policies are strengthened in the ways proposed in Chapter 17 of this Strategy.
We will expect to see more women in the workforce in 2006, and greater diversity of types of employment. Many new jobs should be created in especially in woodworking industries, metal working, textiles, agro-processing and international transport and trade. Berbice will augment its non-agricultural employment, becoming another industrial growth pole erected around the deepwater port. Demands for skilled professional services will grow apace, particularly those based on computer use and those related to international trade. Ecotourism will grow in importance, with new lodges built in distinct locations in the hinterland, and with Amerindian communities more fully incorporated in the operations of that sector (Chapter 37). To meet the developing requirements for new skills, new training centres will come into existence in various points in the country, and vocational training will be more closely coordinated with the private sector, which is the main user of trained labour (Chapter 35).
Non-traditional agricultural products will experience rapid increases in production and exports. Per hectare sown, such crops create several times more employment and much more income than rice, sugar or pasture, so they will give greater buoyancy to the rural economy. Aquaculture should be an especially advantageous growth industry (Chapter 31). In this and other areas, we will attract international investment and expertise, for the technical, managerial and marketing aspects of aquaculture and many non-traditional crops are delicate matters and require the benefit of accumulated experience. There is no gain from repeating the hard learning experiences of others. Fishing families will also see their incomes increase because of more widespread availability of cold storage facilities, which will improve the value of their catches. Income growth throughout the economy will raise consumption demands for seafood and correspondingly improve nutritional standards.
Small businesses, which frequently are the most dynamic element of an economy, will find simpler systems for registering themselves and starting up operations. In the case of agricultural land, improvements in the leasehold system and accelerated titling in freehold will enable farmers to have better conditions of collateral and hence better access to production credit (Chapter 29). The amount of land left idle also will decline. Poor families will have better access to land, a measure which by itself will augment their earning power significantly. This will occur through the opening of new agricultural land and the better utilisation of existing land, via both rental and purchase.
All these developments will facilitate a shift of part of the labour force out of bauxite and sugar, which no longer are sectors with vibrant prospects for expansion (Chapters 32, 33), and into sectors with higher growth potential. The public sector's labour force will not expand, and in fact probably will shrink somewhat more through the processes of natural attrition, but salary levels will rise much closer to comparability with those of the private sector. Training options offered by the public sector also will increase, so its attractiveness to skilled professionals will be enhanced (Chapter 13).
The University of Guyana will play a revitalised role in preparing our citizens for the future, with improved management, broader links to universities abroad, and at least one internationally recognised Centre of Excellence (see Chapter 20). We are likely to have at least one branch of an international university. Primary education will be substantially strengthened and distance-learning techniques will disseminate a stronger educational message throughout our country. These changes will provide important social and cultural benefits and also will improve the earning capacity of our labour force.
[Back to Top]
Completion of an all-weather road to Lethem and extension of the road network along the coast will result in increases in population in the settlements in several hinterland areas, reaching as far as Region 1 (Chapter 38). The Berbice River will be bridged and well before that the rehabilitated Demerara Bridge will be in place. Large-scale hydropower and micro hydropower stations will facilitate the supply of energy to hinterland settlements (Chapter 39), and the health care network will be upgraded in remote locations through the means described in Chapter 19, including enhanced medical transport facilities. We will get to know our own hinterland more intimately. At the same time, the Amerindian Development Fund will be working closely with communities of indigenous peoples to meet their needs for training and for creation of diverse opportunities for employment in and near their places of residence (Chapter 22).
Georgetown and other urban centres will be graced with greenbelts, and urban water and sewerage facilities will be supplied to a higher standard, thereby eliminating a major inconvenience and hazard to public health (Chapter 23). Electricity outages will be only a memory and telecommunications systems will be responsive and reliable. More land will be freed up for housing and the financial access to adequate housing on the part of low-income groups will be vastly improved. At the same time, our priceless architectural heritage in Georgetown will be safeguarded.
We will have a cleaner environment and businesses and consumers will be much more aware of our environmental obligations and how to fulfill them. Reductions in pollution levels themselves will lead to improved standards of public health (Chapter 18). Our forests will be sustainably managed and large areas will be set aside in protected areas and non-timber concessions, which themselves will generate alternative forms of employment for local communities (Chapters 18 and 30).
Although it may be unrealistic to expect to recapture a substantial part of the emigrated talent, these developments can be expected to halt the decline in population and probably give rise to modest increases. Guyanese will travel abroad more and others will visit us more. As our quality of life improves, our human assets will once again rise to the level of our very special cultural, historical and natural assets, and our personal sense that we are living in a special place will grow.
[Back to Top]
The Guyanese path to growth also is a participatory one. Increased participation in affairs of common interest will make us a more closely knit society. By 2006, local communities and diverse citizens' groups will be much more directly involving in planning and managing programmes that are of concern to them. Farmers' associations will be managing and maintaining their own D&I systems, and levying tariffs on themselves for that purpose (Chapter 40). With rights go responsibilities. Other groupings of farmers will be providing guidelines to agricultural researchers, and agricultural extension will be a more interactive process with producers (Chapter 28). Coastal communities will be given greater responsibility for management of stocks of coastal species and mangrove areas. Amerindian communities will be involved in the planning and management of timber concessions, and they will play a major role in the operation of the non-timber concessions in forest areas.
Community associations will nominate from their membership representatives for the Boards of Directors of hospitals (Chapter 19), and parents' associations will provide more inputs into the management of schools (Chapter 20). Community and workplace groups will defend the rights of women and raise awareness about women's issues, and new legislation for enhancing the role of women will be in place (Chapter 21).
Local government will be very considerably strengthened, financially and institutionally, with greater freedom and responsibility for managing projects and making the associated financial outlays and for raising revenues (Chapter 24). Local entities are much better placed than Central Government to manage many kinds of basic services and infrastructure, and the jursidictional confusion between local and regional governments will be cleared away.
Labour unions and workplace committees will have a much greater say in matters of training, which is the key to economic advancement, and in occupational health and safety. Labour organisations will play a greater advisory role in policy making itself. As a nation, we will become shareholders in productive enterprises on a wider scale. This development will bring us into partnerships with domestic and international investors and managers. The economic health of productive enterprises will acquire more direct interest for us and will become a subject that we can influence by acting together as shareholders and not only as workers.
NGOs will have a stronger legislative basis and will become partners in many areas, such as poverty alleviation programmes, environmental monitoring, the supervision of timber concessions, and the provision of other social services. NGOs will be given some direct management responsibilities, under contract with the Government, for some areas such as specified mangrove zones.
The business community will play a vital role, alongside labour, in the design and implementation of programmes for technical and vocational education. It will also support some programmes at the University of Guyana. Its partnership with the Government will be strengthened, a process that already has been initiated through the work on this National Development Strategy. The relationship will no longer be seen as necessarily adversarial, or one of seeking favours, but rather it will enter the arena of consultations on the design and implementation of policies (Chapter 36).
Together, these kinds of change will engender other kinds that cannot be foreseen from the present perspective. Cumulatively, they will solidify the economic and social base for our nation. By early in the next century they will make us a more confident nation, better equipped to play its role in the international community and more cohesive and purposeful at home.
It is an appealing vision, and it is not beyond our capabilities.