DRAFT 21 May 1997
II. Principal Issues and Policies of the Social Sectors
A. Poverty Alleviation
B. Environmental Policy
C. Health Policy
D. Educational Policy
E. Women, Gender and Development
F. Amerindian Policies
G. Urban Development and Housing Sector
H. The Role of Regional and Local Government
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This Chapter summarises the social policies of the National Development Strategy. In formulating this Strategy, equal weight has been given to economic and social policies. The latter are crucial to satisfying the broad national objectives of poverty alleviation, satisfaction of basic social and economic needs, and sustainment of a democratic and fully participatory society.
This summary proceeds in the order of the Social Sector Chapters contained in Volume III. For a more complete description of these policies and the context that motivates them, the reader is referred to that Volume.
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1. Basic Orientations
The policy recommendations for the Poverty Alleviation sector reflect four primary priorities:
the need to promote rapid and sustainable economic growth in a labor-intensive manner
the need to increase the productivity of the poor
reform of the institutional structure and operating procedures of social safety nets
policy reforms to replace generalised subsidies with ones that are targeted on the poor
The recommendations themselves fall under two categories: general policy priorities and sectoral policy priorities.
2. Summary of the Principal Issues and Constraints
The severe economic decline that began in the 1970s, and resulted in nearly 75 percent of the population sinking below the poverty line, was arrested by the eventual stabilising effects of structural adjustment policies initiated in the late 1980s. By 1993 the percentage of the population living below the poverty line was reduced to 43 percent.
Obviously, however, poverty remains a critical issue in Guyana. Several factors contribute to its pervasiveness. Perhaps the most significant constraint to effective poverty alleviation is the degree of marginalisation experienced by large sectors of the population, particularly women and Amerindians, which has resulted in a low level of civil society participation in the development process. Such marginalisation acts to aggravate and perpetuate the socio-economic factors that contribute to poverty through limiting the access of certain groups to resources targeted at poverty alleviation. This becomes particularly problematic in the case of women, who represent over half the Guyanese population and the largest portion of its poor, both because poverty is often passed on to the children and because it restricts their contribution to the economic and socio-political development of the country. Similarly, the Amerindian population, partly due to geographic isolation, experiences extreme marginalisation in Guyanese society. The severity of poverty among Amerindian communities requires specific and targeted actions in land allocation, health care, education, and general infrastructural development.
These constraints, and the ability to adequately address them, are further compounded by the limited capacity of government to design and implement appropriate programs. This is largely a result of low salary levels that inhibit the hiring and retaining of qualified staff, institutional administrative weaknesses, and insufficient funding. Furthermore, past government policies have generated public expectation of generalised subsidies, particularly the provision of public services below cost, that drain the budget and reduce the amount of funds available to the poor. If poverty alleviation is to be seriously addressed in Guyana, more funds will have to be made available to the necessary programs, and methods of data collection to identify target populations must be improved.
3. Policy Priorities and Their Technical Justification
a) General Policy Priorities
POVERTY REDUCTION THROUGH ECONOMIC GROWTH
An essential component of a successful poverty alleviation programme is the incorporation of a framework for rapid economic growth that includes fiscal balance (to promote stability and therefore investment) and favorable exchange rate policies (to promote exports and import substituting industries). Sustained growth expands employment opportunities and raises real earning levels, thereby contributing to reductions in both absolute and relative poverty levels.
The type of economic growth to be pursued must be as labour-intensive as possible, in order to benefit the greatest number of people. (Policies and actions for the labour market are set out in Chapter 35, Labour and Employment Policy.) Attaining labour-intensive growth is contingent upon three things. First, regulations that unduly raise the cost of labour, which discourage hiring and ultimately discriminate against the unemployed, must be kept in check. Second, excessive concessions to capital must be avoided. Finally, since exports are generally the most labour-intensive products, the proposed export processing zone should be pursued as a means to create significant employment. It should be recognised that the expansion of exports is contingent upon a realistic exchange rate, and efforts should be made to keep it from creeping into an overvalued state.
INCREASING THE PRODUCTIVITY OF THE POOR
By itself, the creation of more employment opportunities, including self-employment, will not significantly reduce poverty. The productive opportunities of the poor must be improved as well. For this, appropriate macroeconomic and sectoral policies are required, such as better education and training and improved access to land and working capital.
The majority of farmers in Guyana have less than 10 acres of land, but the average farm size for that group is 2 acres which is an insufficient amount of land to permit the family to rise above the poverty level. It is critical, therefore, that policies are instituted to improve access to land for these people. Accelerating the freehold titling process for small farms and making leases freely transferable will give farmers collateral that will improve their access to credit (see also Chapter 29, Agricultural Land Policy). Furthermore, new lands made available through development projects should be largely allocated to poor farmers in plots of 10 acres, and current leases of 30 acres or more should, upon expiration of the lease, be divided into 10 acre plots and the freehold title be provided to poor farmers at below market prices. Additional measures to improve water management systems and assist in the formation of private marketing cooperatives must also be included in order to reduce the gap between the small farmer and the input and output markets.
Micro and small enterprises are one of the best sources of employment in any economy. In order to support development of the sector, four major policy initiatives are incorporated in this Strategy. The first is undertaking and/or updating surveys from which to establish operational definitions and empirical descriptions of the sector, the appropriateness of the various environments in which these enterprises operate, and the level and nature of the services the sector demands. Second, extension services to the sector need to be provided, and NGOs should be encouraged to become involved in their functioning. Third, existing legislation for companies needs to be simplified to ease the registration process for small firms. Finally, ways in which current initiatives can be expanded should be identified, as well as modes of lending to informal mutual credit associations.
Another critically important component of poverty alleviation is the strengthening of informal and non-formal education and training. In conjunction with formal structures, non-formal education is a vital link between human resource development and socio-economic reform. By teaching job-specific skills, it acts to both close the job gap and offer opportunities for innovation that the formal structures may fail to provide. Because of the positive effects of technical and vocational education and training (TVET), recommendations to support it have been made in the past. Not enough has been done in this area, however, and this Strategy seeks the following objectives: curriculum reform/improvement, consolidation of current TVET institutions and better linkages with their users, systematic training of TVET trainers, improvement of training facilities, and the integration of the needs of various sectors to avoid duplication and waste. Also, the overall guidance of TVET will be placed in the hands of a tripartite council in order to increase the involvement of employers (see Chapter 35).
Of course, increasing employment opportunities will not immediately end poverty. Until everyone is able to meet their own basic needs, social safety nets must remain a priority. Recognising that resources are not available for addressing all the problems of all groups immediately, the Strategy identifies priorities for the social safety nets as follows: women and children, youth, senior citizens, the disabled, and the Amerindian communities. Improvements must also be made to eliminate gaps or overlaps, improve operational procedures, increase beneficiary involvement in design and implementation of programs, reduce donor fatigue, and improve targeting.
A special commission, attached to the Office of the President and composed of representatives from different sectors should be formulated to review all components of the social safety nets and formulate specific recommendations for their improvement. It is recommended that the commission consider the following guidelines: the NIS should be made an autonomous body which will aim to effectively reduce its administrative costs, permit compulsory and voluntary participation, and improve its income, benefits, and performance as a health insurance plan. In addition, a system of private pension plans should be introduced. NGOs should receive greater support for the training of personnel and upgrading of institutional capacities, the creation of an umbrella organisation, participation in all stages of the development process, and they should have a clearly defined legal status. SIMAP must improve its coordination with the line ministries and external donors. Operationally, it should seek a clearer application of an integrated approach to development, an improved disbursement rate, closer consultation with its beneficiaries, and better targeting. It is also recommended that it be converted to a permanent agency with more functional autonomy.
b) Sectoral Policy Priorities
Approximately 85 percent of the Amerindian population falls below the poverty line. Addressing this problem is particularly difficult given the dispersed settlement pattern, the difficult terrain, the high cost of administering interior projects, and the lack of human resource skills. Furthermore, intra-community factions, aggravated in part by challenges to traditional social organisation by gender or age-specific NGO programmes, have effected the viability of many communal projects and need to be factored in to any poverty alleviation programme. The activation of the Amerindian Development Fund discussed in Chapter 22 could play a key role in reducing poverty in Amerindian communities.
WOMEN AND GENDER ISSUES
Women who, by chance or choice, head families with young children or other family members experience the greatest degree of critical and moderate poverty in each group. Moreover, it is particularly difficult for women to rise out of poverty. Formal employment opportunities provide lower wages and status to women, who often have difficulty accessing the necessary credit to enter the informal sector self-employment. Health risks to poor women and children are particularly severe, and women often become victims of violence at home, in the workplace, and in society due to unequal gender relations.
There have been a great many studies which show that investments in women yield high returns in productivity, child health, and family welfare. Examining the role that gender plays in economic life could lead to better understanding of the role social institutions play in development. For a complete discussion of new policy directions for gender-related issues, see Chapter 21, Women, Gender, and Development.
Given the wide spectrum of activity involving the poor in which NGOs are involved, efforts should be made to evaluate their strategies and interventions to date and determine the future role of this sector in poverty alleviation efforts. Some initial steps to strengthen the sector should take place in the meantime, however. Data, particularly on the rural and interior populations and their needs, should be made more available to allow NGOs better determine target groups. An umbrella organisation to coordinate NGO activity should be created, and legislation should be crafted to simplify the process of NGO registration.
NGO activities should reflect the needs of the communities they serve, particularly in the area of human resource development and then generation of opportunities for creating employment and raising household incomes. They should focus on shifting ownership of the development activities from themselves to the communities.
Decentralisation, Participation, and Empowerment
Participatory development will be a foundation of the poverty alleviation strategy. A policy of decentralisation will support this aim by placing municipal and local administrators increasingly at the center of sustainable development efforts, and allowing beneficiaries to be more involved in design and implementation of projects. This will require a restructuring of legal procedures and operating methods, increased training at the local level, and the devolution of the provision of core social services, particularly education and health, to local and community levels.
Sustainable human development depends on inclusive participation as a means to ensure that all members of society are given access to economic opportunities, material resources, and the capacity to benefit equitably from the development process. The eradication of poverty entails the active and direct involvement of all sections of society regarding decision making, preparation of project proposals, administration and monitoring of projects, and the dissemination of information.
The empowerment of people and the creation of an enabling environment through sound government in partnership with civil society are two crucial aspects of sustainable human development. Empowerment strategies address factors that constrain the capacity of people, particularly the poor. The specific means of empowerment include: involvement in decision making, strengthening individual and organisational capacity, provision of material resources, and endowing the poor with greater assets, access to credit, and social benefits.
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1. Basic Orientations
In line with the overall national objectives of the development strategy, the principal environmental policy objectives are to improve living standards by focusing on environmental health, ensuring the availability of a natural resource base to allow for future economic growth, and broadening quality of life through the preservation of unique habitats, natural treasures, biodiversity, and cultural heritage.
2. Summary of the Principal Issues and Constraints
Environmental issues affect the health, well-being, and future of the people of Guyana. The environmental policies of the National Development Strategy, therefore, intend to promote the sustainable management of natural resources and preserve a healthy environment. The main issues facing the sector can be grouped in those which relate to the coast, urban areas, and the interior. The densely populated coastal plain, which lies below sea level, supports concentrated agricultural activity. Frequent flooding due to degraded sea defenses, erosion, and the deteriorated infrastructures for water supply, waste management and irrigation, has had serious pollution, public health, and economic consequences. This has been particularly dangerous in urban areas, where ground and surface water contamination from insufficient waste disposal systems has resulted in severe problems of environmental health. The interior regions suffer from environmental damage which has intensified with the growing number of logging and mining concessions granted in the absence of a regulatory framework. A key issue in the interior, therefore, is the development of non-timber concessions that would generate royalties and employment for the local populations. Guyana's environmental problems are not only the result of insufficient regulations, but also a lack of maintenance of the services due to the declining fiscal situation and inadequate cost recovery measures.
In order to address these issues, Guyana will have to overcome several constraints to sound resource management. Institutional weakness in and across sectors presents difficulties in resource management, as does the lack of security of land tenure. Clear policies, regulations and legislation for environmental management, along with monitoring and enforcement capabilities, are a prerequisite to sound planning for sustainable resource use. The limited capacity of the current environmental agency, the absence of a Land Use Plan, and the lack of an adequate information base that would allow for the formulation, implementation and monitoring of such plans have extremely negative ramifications for environmental management in Guyana. The deteriorated state of infrastructure also makes environmental management difficult, as does the lack of sustained community participation.
3. Policy Recommendations and Their Technical Justification
The first and most fundamental step Government will take in the area of environmental policy is the creation of an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which will collaborate with several governmental agencies to analyse issues, formulate and implement solutions, and monitor results. The EPA will be empowered to present Cabinet with recommendations concerning the management of renewable resources in order to avoid further degradation. The agency will also have the ability to draft remedial plans for agricultural and industrial pollution which, once presented to the polluters and the public for comment, will become regulations. Finally, environmental education and public awareness will be the responsibility of the EPA, as will the provision of scientific testimony in court cases involving environmental issues.
Effective coastal zone management depends on the availability of baseline data and adequate monitoring and regulation by appropriate coss-sectoral institutions, as well as improved legislation, public awareness, and community participation in decision making and implementation. Integrating the different agencies and review private sector involvement will be difficult but crucial, and the government is considering establishing a lead environmental agency to head the coordination effort. Rehabilitation and maintenance of the sea defenses and drainage and irrigation infrastructure is obviously critical to coastal zone management, and more emphasis will have to be placed on cost recovery mechanisms (see Chapter 40 for a complete discussion of recommendations). Mangroves protect against erosion and are an important breeding ground for marine life, but also serve as a primary source of fuelwood for coastal communities. Alternative sources of firewood and replanting programmes must be initiated, but will only be successful if the communities themselves become involved in the sustainable management of the resource.
A Draft National Forestry Code of Practice has been formulated in order to consolidate earlier initiatives in forestry management and set guidelines for sustainable and environmentally acceptable forestry practices. The EPA will articulate the criteria and procedures for environmental impact assessments (EIAs), and all forestry operations will be subjected to them before and during the logging operation. Attention must also be paid to the development of non-timber uses of the forests, with royalties paid to Government that are comparable to timber royalties. Government will encourage the establishment of a special foundation, tentatively to be known as the Guyana Rainforest Foundation, that will set up an endowment fund to receive donations from international NGOs, corporations, and bilateral donors, and use the earnings to help manage and pay the royalties for non-timber concessions. The foundation would also seek to promote ecotourism, medicinal uses of the forest and international agreements on carbon offset.
In the mining sector, the GGMC and the private sector will work to solve the problem of degradation of waterways and pollution of surface and groundwater stemming from mining activities. Government will develop standards for levels and condition of discharged substances, and any mining method or equipment which is damaging the environment will be prohibited. Emissions standards will be developed and monitored, and all mining operations with the potential to increase air pollution levels will be required to install appropriate equipment to reduce such levels. Small scale miners need to be regulated and monitored as well, and should be encouraged to use regional mills for processing where mercury pollution can be controlled. Before a concession is granted for every mining operation, an EIA will be required. For this to be done in an effective and timely manner, the GGMC's technical capacity will have to be strengthened significantly.
Chapter 29, Agricultural Land Policy, articulates new pricing policies for the use of government lands and the extraction of resources. Lease rates are being moved to market levels in stages and lease conditions are being modified to make them more suitable for use as collateral and more attractive to investors. Other measures being taken in the area of land and agriculture include granting the Lands and Surveys Commission autonomy, instituting a system of land taxes, relaxing controls on rental rates of private land, granting freehold title in areas of long-term beneficial occupation of leasehold, and amending legislation to remove constraints to registering property. Considering the importance of the efficient and sustainable use of water resources and the need to protect the coastlands from flooding, transfer of responsibility for secondary D&I management to the Water Users' Associations has been suggested. This will require granting local authorities considerably more autonomy, primarily in the area of revenue generation and expenditure (see also, Chapter 24 The Role of Regional and Local Governments). Technologies that are environmentally sensitive to local conditions need to be promoted, which will require the strengthening of the National Agricultural Research Institution.
Government has decided to expand Kaieteur National Park from its current 45 square miles to 222 square miles which will include the watershed leading up to the falls. The Government has also requested funding to establish a national system of protected areas that is representative of the country's biological diversity, which is an essential step to the sustainable management of Guyana's natural resources. To ensure that wildlife harvests do not exceed sustainable levels, the Wildlife Services Unit must be strengthened and its mandate expanded to include sustainable management issues in addition to its harvest and export responsibilities.
Ecotourism, the objective of which is to provide a high quality tourism product without allowing negative impacts on the natural environment or disturbing the national heritage, has vast potential in Guyana. Amerindians should have the opportunity to benefit from ecotourism, as well as participate in the development of policies to preserve and protect their cultural identities. Guyana's cultural heritage is considered part of the environment, and the EPA will therefore take the lead in promoting its proper stewardship and conservation. For more information on tourism policies, see Chapter 37.
Waste management and pollution control also need to be addressed within an environmental policy. Pollution abatement plans will specify the maximum quantitative limits that are permissible, either by source (i.e. firm) or environmental sink (i.e. rivers, soils, and aquifers in a given zone). Solid waste management, limited to Georgetown, is in need of improvement in order to prevent serious health hazards. The institution of collection fees or the privatisation of the service are recommended solutions to improve the current situation. The EPA will draft solid waste management programmes which will become mandatory regulations after being made available for public comment. Water tariffs and collection rates are far too low for the Regional Water Departments to maintain adequate services. Granting them autonomy might help increase efficiency and raise collection rates.
Amerindians require specific consideration in the design of environmental policies, since much of their land in rich in natural resources, and therefore vulnerable to external exploitation. For a complete discussion of policies relating to Amerindian land and exploitation rights, intellectual property rights, and the importance of participatory natural resource management, see Chapter 22 Amerindian Policy.
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1. Basic Orientations
The two inter-related objectives of the health care sector are to improve the population's access to health care and the quality of the care itself. Underlying these primary objectives is the desire to create a healthier environment and inculcate healthier lifestyles in Guyana. Achieving these supporting objectives alone would reduce the strain on the health care system and alleviate a great deal of suffering.
2. Summary of the Principal Issues and Constraints
The past policies of the health sector have been characterized by the commitment to provide free health care to all the citizens of Guyana. Unfortunately, during the decline in the economy over a period of two decades, health conditions deteriorated for a large part of the population. In recent years, with greater government allocations and rising real salaries, considerable progress has been made in improving the health care system, with the potential for more progress on solid ground. The rehabilitation of Guyana's health care sector begins with identifying and overcoming its major remaining constraints to development.
The fundamental challenge to the sector is guaranteeing access to health care for all, while at the same time improving the quality of care provided. It is important to realize that even if health care remains nominally free, severe restrictions in funding make the universal provision of the necessary facilities and services an impossibility. Even though Guyana's public expenditure on health increased significantly between 1992 and 1995, it still remains below the levels necessary to restore the system to the desired state. This is partly due to a lack of institutional coordination within the health care system and the need for improved financial management. The inadequate and inefficient use of funding make the provision of quality care and the retention of qualified medical personnel extremely difficult.
The five tiered referral system, from local health posts all the way up to the National Referral Hospital, is not functioning as planned. The lower levels in the system are not providing quality care and are therefore bypassed whenever possible, particularly by those who can afford private care. Measures to upgrade the lower-level facilities and improve the referral system is inhibited by a lack of administrative coordination between the Ministry of Health (MOH) and the regional authorities. The Regional Health Workers are usually not trained in public health or administration, so they are not always equipped to assume positions of leadership for health teams in the region. Overall, there are too many levels to be functional and too many hospitals in relation to the budgetary possibilities of equipping them all.
The supply and distribution of pharmaceuticals and medical supplies is another major bottleneck in the health care system. Legislation in this area is seriously outdated and quality control and standard treatment protocol are insufficient. There are also no estimates for annual drug needs nor is there a working information system to maintain inventory control. The health information system is a crucial part of the delivery system, as it allows for informed decisions concerning programme planning, management, and resource allocation. Unfortunately, the inadequate and irregular supply of data from the health units in the regions, inappropriate reporting procedures, and a staff lacking the training for information management and analysis has severely limited the effective functioning of the system.
Because increasing awareness of disease prevention, healthy lifestyles, and community participation has a long term positive impact of health status, primary health care is considered the most crucial link in the system. Unfortunately, there is currently no primary health care unit within the MOH to ensure the adequate integration and funding of primary health care activities. As a result, the nutritional surveillance system to monitor food and nutrition status is limited and the maternal and child health programme faces staff and medicinal shortages, a lack of data analysis, no explicit family planning programme or policy, and little reproductive health education in the schools. Secondary and tertiary care do receive more attention in Guyana, but still face similar constraints: a lack of trained personnel, equipment, information, standards, community involvement and high operating costs. Both veterinary and environmental health services suffer from a weak presence in the MOH and coordination with relevant agencies, a shortage of staff, and outdated legislation. Vertical programmes, which have enjoyed some success in Guyana, are also constrained by deficient central and field staff, support services, and inter-institutional coordination.
3. Policy Recommendations and Their Technical Justification
The MOH should become the sole health authority in the public sector, taking over responsibility for the hospitals and health facilities now overseen by Regional Administrations and the Ministry of Labour. Under this system, Regional Health Officers will report directly to an appropriate officer in the MOH, and they would receive training in health administration. For hospitals to operate effectively, however, they will require greater autonomy in operating decisions. The basic functioning of each hospital will be supervised by a non-profit Board of Directors that will be integral in ensuring the requisite level of operational autonomy for hospitals and improving community involvement. Hospitals now operating under parastatals will remain under their authority due to their high quality of service, but as the quality of the national health system improves, a transfer will be implemented by the year 2005. Also within this restructured system, a primary health care division will be established in the MOH which will work closely with the regional units.
As discussed earlier, the five-tiered system of health care is not working well. Poor quality lower levels are by-passed, leaving many health facilities already in place underutilised. This suggests that the current funds made available to the health sector are not being used as efficiently as possible. The most logical step given these circumstances is to close some of the marginally used hospitals and reallocating the money to upgrade other facilities, provide air and water ambulances, and expand the program of rotating physician visits to some of the more remote communities.
A detailed review will have to be carried out to determine the best new course for increasing the effectiveness of the entire system. The MOH will have to provide leadership for these new methods and allocation of resources, and senior managers in the public and private sectors must be encouraged to take on the responsibility of reforming management structures and procedures, delegating decision-making to the most appropriate levels and increasing the use of data. Of course, salaries need to be increased in real terms and better management training and tools need to be provided to administrators. The specific management policies for the public health sector that need to be addressed with urgency are addressed at length in the chapter. One example is the introduction of a required term of service, one out of every twenty four or thirty months, in the hinterland areas for private sector medical personnel as a condition for maintaining their licenses.
Policies for financing health care begin with two fundamental requirements: urgently mobilise more funding for health care, and ensure that no one is denied access to health care because they are unable to pay. Central Government will remain the principal source of funding for the public health care system, with expenditure targets of 7.5 percent of GDP by the year 2000 and 10 percent in 2005, and no patient shall be refused service because of inability to pay the selective service fees that will be implemented. A record-keeping system will be coordinated with SIMAP in order to determine cases requiring payment exemption. The new fees, the goals of which are to recover 5 percent of the facilities' operating cost in 1998, 10 percent by 2000 and 20 percent by 2002, will be reimbursable by both NIS and private insurance schemes.
The availability of pharmaceuticals and medical supplies is obviously a critically important issue in the sector. Some basic reforms are necessary, starting with contracting out the procurement of drugs and supplies to a private contractor. Each facility will be allowed to make their own purchases and negotiate the price of drugs and supplies, but the quality control function of the Government Analysis Department of the GAHEF needs to be strengthened and investments made to improve storage facilities for pharmaceuticals in public health centers and health posts.
As mentioned earlier, emphasising primary health care services is the most effective way to improve the overall health of the nation. Policy emphasis will be placed on disease control programs, introducing health education as an integral part of day-to-day community health services, nutritional surveillance and environmental health issues that will be addressed as an urgent national priority. Particular efforts must be made to improve hinterland access to primary care, and overall priority will be given to children, adolescents, and pregnant or lactating women. The MOH will launch a public education campaign on the proper use of medication, as well as develop a draft plan for community involvement in primary health care and the carrying out of regional consultations to solicit comments and refine the draft. Secondary and tertiary health care are also important, but the reforms outlined above should improve them significantly. Remaining recommendations would include strengthening linkages with international and national NGOs to continue hinterland visits by specialist doctors from abroad, and to ensure all facilities are staffed and properly supplied, including sufficient safe blood supplies.
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1. Basic Orientations
The policy recommendations for the educational policy sector reflect three fundamental objectives:
Raising levels of literacy and numeracy in the population
Improving the populations command of life skills
Meeting the special education needs of children with handicaps
The recommendations fall under two categories: overall policies for the educational system and policies specific to levels of the educational system.
2. Summary of the Principal Issues and Constraints
Although Guyana enjoyed one of the best educational systems in the Caribbean during the 1960s, it currently has one of the least effective. In 1976, all responsibility for education was transferred to the public sector, with Government undertaking to subsidise education from nursery to university. Any cost -recovery provision was strictly prohibited. These policies were relaxed somewhat in 1992 due to budgetary austerity, but all formal education continues to be funded by Government Treasury. As a consequence of these policies and the fiscal austerity, the proportion of GDP allocated to education declined sharply over the past decade. Though in recent years it has recovered somewhat, it still has not reached levels considered adequatae. This lack of available resources is the fundamental source of many of the sectors current constraints. Lack of adequate funds, for example, has meant that teachers salaries are too low to attract and retain qualified staff, teacher training has been insufficient, and instructional materials are in scarce supply. Furthermore, there are inadequate data to monitor budget, enrollments, and school and teacher performances.
Perhaps the most serious structural problem in the sector is the underfunding of primary education, relative to other levels. Primary education has the greatest payoffs for economic development but is receiving only a small portion of the funding per pupil received by secondary and tertiary education.
In addition to these general constraints, additional constraints exist at each level of schooling. The provision of day care and play school facilities is not within the competence of the Minister of Education, and, at the nursery level, there is a lack of data in the Ministry of Education on demand for schools by region, thereby restricting planning and development of additional facilities. In primary education, many teachers have no curriculum guide to follow, and the curriculum itself is dominated by preparation for the SSEE. The secondary school system suffers poor administration and a lack of instructional supervision and development programs for teaching staff. The physical condition of the schools is extremely poor, and the distribution of funding is skewed to favor the CXC examination and Presidents College. At the University of Guyana, financial management capacity is weak, and although salaries have improved, they remain less attractive than private sector salaries. Furthermore, there has been a marked decline in quality of first-year students entering the university.
The large unsatisfied backlog of needs for teachers training is another serious constraint to the education sector, and it is perpetuated by the lack of coordination between the appropriate institutional bodies such as the CPCE, NCERD, IACE, and the Education Faculty at the University of Guyana. Poor conditions of service and shortage of trained teachers educators compounds the problem, as does the absence of a continuous evaluation of teacher training programs.
Technical vocational education and training is a crucial component to the economic development of Guyana and the increased employment opportunities of its population, but it too faces serious constraints. There is an insufficient supply of TVET in relation to the growing needs of industry, and current programs are not fully attuned to the requirements of employers. There are also a lack of mechanisms for wider private sector participation in funding the costs of TVET.
Equally important, there are not enough provisions in the existing school system for children with special needs, and there are insufficient data on the numbers, distribution, school levels, and classification of special needs for these children.
3. Policy Priorities and Their Technical Justification
a) Overall Policies for the Educational System
As the underlying constraint of the education sector is limited financing, the policy recommendations in this Strategy reflect the need to increase funding. The first step is to raise the national budget allocation for education continuously from the present level of 6 percent to 10 percent by the year 2000, and to 14 percent by the year 2005. Since there is a pressing need to stress the national importance of primary education, the majority of each years increment should be allocated to primary education until its share reaches 35 percent by 2000 and 40 percent by 2005. The money that is spent should be better used, with improved targeting of subsidies and reduction in regional variations in spending. Barriers to establishing private schools should be removed, and administrative services such as transport and catering should be contracted out to the more competitive commercial market. Equally important, a modest basic fee should be introduced for primary and secondary schools in the greater Georgetown area with a means to identify families that should be exempt from paying, and exam subsidies should be reduced. Schools should also be allowed to raise supplementary funding without prejudicing their regular allotment from the Ministry of Finance.
The administration of education must be improved as well, starting with the development of better baseline data and its computerisation, and systematic budgetary procedures. The relationship between the Central Ministry, the regional Education Department, and the Regional Democratic Councils needs to be clarified, and training programs for administrators need to be strengthened. It is also important to involve communities in educational planning and delivery.
b) Policies Specific to Levels of Education
Specific policies to improve each level of education obviously need to be implemented as well. Pre-school care, for instance, should be made more widely available and given more structure in its "curriculum," facilities should be upgraded, and training provided for instructors. It is suggested that alliances with the business sector, NGOs, and community organisations may fill some of these needs. The availability of nursery-level education also needs to be expanded, its curriculum improved, and training for teachers expanded. Efforts should be made to increase enrollment by 15 percent in the next five years, with specific concentration on the hinterland and riverain areas. Learning materials should be developed in native languages, and teachers should be trained to teach English as a second language.
Policy recommendations in primary education include efforts to increase the percentage of professionally trained primary teachers annually, so that it rises to 75 percent by the year 2000. Salaries should also be raised and performance-based incentives provided, with specific consideration to the hinterland areas in order to attract and retain qualified staff. A national committee should be convened to evaluate the option of eliminating SSEE and replacing it with performance norms and continuous assessment, and deferring the choice between academic or vocational tracks to age 14 or 16. Assistance from donors and NGOs in improving the school feeding program and in rehabilitation or construction of schools and libraries, and alliances with programs such as SIMAP, BNTF, and PTA should be strengthened. Two pilot projects are recommended, the first to test strategies for easing transition between school levels, and the other to select below-average schools and convert them into magnet schools through an intensive and coordinated program.
At the secondary level, community high school programs should be extended by one year, using the first year for repeat or remedial work. A common curriculum for the first three years should be established, and the compulsory age of education should be raised to 16 or the completion of the 5-year secondary program. The cost-effectiveness of the delivery of education needs to be improved, and a system for awarding CXC subsidies for students in need should be established. Also, there must be a full complement of teachers in every subject, and a more structured system of supervised teaching.
The training of teachers is crucial to ensuring the quality of education in Guyana. New training centers at a regional level, especially the hinterland areas, should be created, and external donors must be enlisted to assist in improving technologies for training. The cost-effectiveness of teacher training needs to be improved, perhaps through introducing partial cost recovery, as does the curriculum for teacher training. Greater opportunities for current teachers to participate in training programs would have a definite positive impact on the level of teaching. Also, a system should be established whereby individuals who have not completed their tertiary education can nevertheless acquire professional teaching competence. The programs should be systematically evaluated every 5 years.
There are two main thrusts to the policy recommendations for tertiary education: improving its efficiency in managing resources and improving the quality and relevance of the university. In order to achieve the former, a predictable and declining level of subvention to the university should be maintained, and the public subvention transferred annually to avoid disruption in the management of the institutions finances. A university grants commission should be set up to recommend to the Government financial allocations over the short and medium term. Fees should be maintained, possibly varying from one faculty to another. In areas of low teacher-student ratio, enrollment must be increased or staff decreased. Heads of Departments, not Deans, should be responsible for financial budgeting, and should prepare rolling 5-year plans for both capital and recurrent expenditures. Students who receive scholarships cannot emigrate without having worked at least two years in Guyana.
In order to improve the quality and relevance of the university, several recommendations have been put forth. The entry requirements should be maintained, with the possible addition of a scholastic aptitude test. The facility to provide scholarships to needy students, the capacity to provide remedial assistance the first year, and adult education programs must be strengthened. Collabouration with the University of the West Indies and the establishment of branch campuses in Guyana for foreign universities should be pursued. Finally, the university should develop a long-term plan for establishing centres of excellence in areas such as tropical forestry and forest management, geology and mining, and fisheries management, with support sought from industry and international donors for research and teaching programs.
TVET is of fundamental importance, and every effort should be made to expand its scope and geographical coverage, encourage the participation of women, improve its relevancy to potential employers, and involve the private sector via training and internships. Pre-vocational courses in basic education should be eliminated and the resources reallocated to post-basic TVET, and graduates who received scholarships should be required to work in Guyana for two years. (See recommendations of Chapter 35 regarding a tripartite council for TVET.)
Special education needs must also not be overlooked in Guyana. Efforts must be made to put children with special needs, with the exception of those with extreme disabilities, into mainstream education. Schools should be required to articulate the multi-year and annual plans and resource requirements for satisfying childrens special needs, and existing special needs schools should be strengthened. Improving teacher training in special needs education will obviously be required, and instituting regular diagnostic testing in schools to identify learning difficulties early on will greatly improve the delivery of necessary services. Encouraging the involvement of families and developing partnerships with support groups and NGOs will be a crucial component of these recommendations. Finally, the committee on special needs should be formally recognised, expanded in scope, and empowered to deal effectively with associated issues.
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1. Basic Orientations
Gender can not be easily isolated as a separate topic or sector given its fundamental importance in all aspects of society. It is therefore the objective of this sector to promote economic, social and political gender equality by bringing the issues into the mainstream of development policy and promoting a pattern of development based on gender sensitive policies. This chapter looks at the situation of women in eight different areas: poverty employment, health, education, the household, the media, the institutional framework and legislation.
2. Summary of the Principal Issues and Constraints
It is widely known that the incidence of poverty is higher among women than men. Women face lower incomes, higher illiteracy, have difficulties accessing credit, and suffer more from health problems and social or domestic of violence. The weaknesses in the physical and social infrastructure contribute to women's poverty by increasing the time and energy needed to perform daily domestic tasks, therefore reducing time available for paid work or other activities. Structural adjustment policies have also been cited as being particularly damaging to women, who are most dependent on public sector programmes targeted for austerity measures, and who are saddled with more domestic responsibility as provision of services is shifted from the State to the household. This largely explains women's low participation in the paid work force and their subsequent lack of economic power. Additionally, however, women are paid significantly less for similar tasks and are more or less excluded from higher-paying occupations and higher positions in occupational hierarchies. Given the emphasis on the private sector as the engine of growth and the need to attract foreign investment, there is a strong temptation for the Government to informalise the labour market, which perpetuates these problems for women.
Women's health is largely determined by their access to and quality of services, both of which have deteriorated substantially. As a result, women face severe health problems, particularly in the areas of nutrition and maternal mortality. The increasing burdens of providing and accessing health care, whether in homes, clinics or hospitals, falls hardest on women, and their capacity to access and use health information is limited by their gender roles and social circumstances. Education is also an important factor in the lives of women, since raising educational levels for girls drastically affects their job opportunities and influences factors such as contraceptive use, number of children they has and the age they start childbearing. Though males and females enjoy equal access to education, this does not necessarily translate into equal societal opportunities due to gender stereotyping in fields of study.
A high proportion of female headed households in Guyana do not conform to the "ideal-typical nuclear model" used in much development policy and statistical data collection. Data are often not broken down by sex, and is recorded by household rather than individual. Furthermore, given that the distribution of income is highly unequal within households, the increase in household income does not necessarily imply an improvement in the welfare of women and children.
The institutional framework to address gender issues in Guyana has not proven sufficient. The objectives of the Women's Affairs Bureau (WAB) are undermined by inadequate staffing and financing, its location within Government, and its lack of inter-ministerial linkages. Since the poorest women are often the hardest to reach, problems are compounded by poor delivery mechanisms and infrastructure. Furthermore, the efforts of women's organisations have not been coordinated due to political polarisation and a resource constraints within the organisations. Legally, women still face many constraints as well, such as an extremely discriminatory land tenure law, inadequate protection from domestic violence and rape, no recognition of the value of nonwage-earning work, and no protection against dismissal on the grounds of pregnancy or provision of paid time off for ante-natal care.
Unless women's gender roles and gender needs are understood, it will be difficult to improve the position of women in society. Unfortunately, gender is seen as a peripheral subject, consideration of which will only increase the cost of and time required in economic and political transactions. It is important, therefore, that efforts are made to clarify not only the moral arguments for eliminating gender discrimination, but also the economic arguments.
3. Policy Recommendations and Their Technical Justification
Along with those made in the eight areas outlined above, some general policy recommendations are put forth to improve the position of women in Guyana. First, data must be broken down by sex in order to get a better understanding of differences in instances of poverty between men and women (or between different groups of women), and to focus on the economic implications of women's participation in domestic and informal labour. This will require strengthening the Guyana Statistical Bureau, and closer collaboration with the WBA and the research units of the University of Guyana. Data on women's socio-economic position and the economic value of their unwaged work should be published in key government statistical publications alongside national macroeconomic data. Focal points should be established in all Ministries and agencies which, under the WAB, will identify gender needs as they relate to their ministry's area of activity and ensure these needs are considered in policy design and implementation. An inter-ministry committee, chaired by the head of the WAB, will be created for this purpose. Government can encourage both private firms and public agencies to move toward gender equality by publishing their ranking in gender achievements. A public campaign should be conducted to raise awareness of gender issues, and budgetary support provided for women's support groups at the community level.
Recommendations addressing poverty, like nearly all of the eight areas listed above, can be broken down into both practical and strategic recommendations. The practical recommendations include increasing women's remunerative employment opportunities by promoting economic growth, investing in women's human capital through training and improved health, and encouraging their entrance into the market by offering flexible hours. Since many opportunities lie outside the formal sector, this will also require supporting self-employment and microenterprise development. Enhancing women's access to credit by supporting grass-roots credit schemes and the creation of national women's credit institution will be required to make such microenterpise possible, especially for poor women. Most fundamentally, investment in basic social services must be increased, the aim earmarked at 20 percent of the national budget as declared in the Social Summit in Copenhagen, with an emphasis on the poorest groups of women. The strategic recommendations seek to directly challenge current gender roles. The first is to train women in non-traditional and higher paying trades. Also a committee should be created to look into the case for affirmative action.
Practical recommendations for education begin with implementing the policies outlined throughout the National Strategy to boost employment, with consideration given to retraining women who are entering or returning to the workhorse. Policies should be introduced to make working environments more "family friendly" by, for example, providing more day care facilities, introducing the "flextime" system, and offering parental leave for both males and females. Strategically, the broader approach to technical and vocational education, called for in Chapter 35, must be implemented. Government will also have to ensure the compliance of corporations with national laws and codes governing the rights and benefits of women workers.
The needs in the health sector are outlined in Chapter 19 and include improving the levels of primary health care and reproductive health care, with special emphasis on female malnutrition. Additionally, contraceptive technology should be distributed in order to enhance women's control over fertility decisions. Health institutions that carry out abortions should be monitored to ensure they adhere to health and safety requirements.
The levels and quality of education also need to be improved, particularly up to grade 9, through increasing the quality and quantity of teachers and schools. Parenting skills should be introduced into the curriculum of both formal and non-formal institutions, and women should be assisted in returning to the educational system after pregnancy or child-rearing by providing grants or loans, or appropriate training programmes. Providing day-care facilities at secondary and post-secondary institutions will also assist women balance the demands of children with the challenge of procuring a quality education. Finally, a national distance learning scheme should be established under the auspices of the University of Guyana, which will allow women who do not have access to schools or training centres to gain an education. Strategically, it is recommended that scholarships, grants and fellowships be awarded to women to pursue non-traditional fields of study at all tertiary and post-secondary institutions. Career advice services and a system of industrial placements for females will have to be set up in non-traditional firms. Guidelines for classroom management and educational material are needed to avoid gender stereotyping at all levels, and gender training should be conducted for all teachers and administrators. More female teachers should be encouraged in tertiary institutions and management positions, and a "Task Force on Gender Issues in Education" should be established.
Given the media's position of power as a source of information, it should be utilised more effectively in providing information on women's practical gender needs such as health and education, as well as their strategic needs, such as enhancing women's legal awareness and advice on non-traditional careers. Policies to encourage creative media programming on gender should be encouraged, particularly regarding the specific circumstances, contributions and achievements of rural and hinterland women, Amerindian women, and women of lower income groups. A code of conduct for gender-sensitive media programming will have to be established between the WBA, media agencies and other women's groups. This should be preceded by gender sensitivity training for media professionals. Encouraging women to enter journalism will directly reinforce all the recommendations for the media.
Institutionally, the WAB needs a great deal of strengthening before it can successfully perform its functions. Improvements need to be made in the number and quality of personnel, financial resources, and in creating the appropriate support structures to effectively carry out the tasks required. Specifically this will include the establishment of a National Commission on Women which will recommend policy and programme directions in regard to gender, promote a lobby for the policies and programmes of the WAB, stimulate national debate and encourage continued research on gender issues. Legislatively, the Domestic Violence Bill should be enacted and adequate institutional capacity provided to monitor and enforce its implementation. A national legal literacy campaign to inform women of their legal rights should be undertaken, and training should be provided for law enforcement officials so they can better understand and respond to incidences of domestic violence or discrimination.
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1. Summary of the Principal Issues and Constraints
The obstacles facing Amerindian development center around three main issues: land, poverty, and education. Under the topic of land, several problems need to be addressed. Laws regarding the issues of occupancy, ownership and control need to be clarified. Current interdepartmental conflicts between various Government ministries are acting to exacerbate the legal problems, as agencies responsible for indigenous affairs must constantly contend with agencies which attempt to regulate and exploit natural resources and desire title to lands on which extractive activities are contemplated. The unfamiliarity of Amerindian peoples with their legal rights and correct administrative procedures often works to undermine their ability to claim title to their land. And, of course, a general lack of resources renders Amerindians unable to adequately pursue the physical demarcation of their lands which would be the most effective solution to these problems.
In addressing the issue of poverty, there is a lack of a centralized entity with the resources to coordinate all governmental, non-governmental and international activities in Amerindian and hinterland development. The Ministry of Amerindian Affairs has shown itself to be ill-equipped for such a task, and is currently bypassed in the implementation of many initiatives. The initiatives currently underway, most of which are designed without adequate input from the Amerindian communities themselves, are hindered by the lack of physical infrastructure both to make the areas accessible and through which to deliver the services needed. Furthermore, there is a serious lack of appropriately trained personnel to deal with matters such as agricultural extension, forestry, and natural resource management. The strengthening of human capital in Guyana is an issue dealt with throughout the strategy, and efforts in this area will greatly benefit the Amerindian community. Access to capital, finance and credit is another major obstacle to Amerindian development, perpetuated by the absence of banking facilities in most Amerindian areas and the fact that commercial banks demand proof of individual land ownership as security, which the vast majority of Amerindians do not posses.
Education is the third major constraint to Amerindian development. Literacy and numeracy levels are extremely low in Amerindian communities, in part due to the fact that there are too few facilities and the curriculum is not appropriate to the realities of Amerindian life. Currently there is no specific training for teachers who will be based in the hinterland areas, raising further questions about cultural sensitivity in education. There is also a lack of access to training at the educational colleges for Amerindians, as they often have not had the opportunity to acquire the necessary entrance requirements. Together, these factors result in a situation in which education is difficult to come by and often of limited value to many Amerindians.
Two last problems must be addressed in the discussion of constraints to Amerindian Development. The first is the inability to monitor and control the activities of non-Amerindians in or close to Amerindian lands, specifically itinerant miners and forest operators. These individuals often have a profoundly destructive impact on the land, at a great cost to the Amerindian communities living there. Second, the inefficient and often nonexistent regulations to guide the internal affairs of the Amerindian communities have rendered Amerindian leadership unable to effectively address the issues facing their communities.
2. Policy Recommendations and Their Technical Justifications
As an important first step toward the advancement of the Amerindians, the institutional capacity of the Ministry for Amerindian Affairs must be strengthened, and a centralized unit must be established within the Ministry to coordinate the activities of all governmental and non-governmental agencies involved in Amerindian/hinterland development. Government must also institute, as a priority, a national dispute resolution framework to deal specifically with the settlement of land and resource management concerns. In a collaborative effort between Government and the communities, all land occupied by Amerindians must be surveyed, boundaries clearly demarcated, and maps produced. Administrators in forestry, mining, and other natural resource sectors should be appointed to ensure that such activities are properly monitored.
The premise honored throughout the Strategy for the Amerindian sector is that the communities who are affected by resource development or extraction activities should be compensated for the use of their land. This is true in mining, forestry, and tourism, and the funds raised should go directly into the Amerindian Development Fund, discussed below, to pursue community development projects. Obviously, it is of the utmost importance to settle Amerindian land claims before any concessions are granted, and Amerindian community leaders should be consulted during the drafting of concession agreements. Feasibility studies and social, environmental, and economic impact studies should be carried out before agreements are reached, and the sustainable use of the resources should be a top priority. Finally, Amerindian community members should be involved in the monitoring and staffing of the projects in their area.
A major policy initiative put forth in this Strategy is the establishment of an Amerindian Development Fund in the Bank of Guyana, financed by a tax or royalty fees charged to developers working in Amerindian land. The money should be directed back into the communities for their development as a supplement to Government spending on Amerindian programs. Given that Government resources are limited, the Amerindian Development Fund will be crucial for providing the necessary funds for the badly needed development programs outlined in this chapter. Arrangements should also be made with one or more banks to initiate programs of savings and borrowing for groups of Amerindians, based on models of similar programs that have proven highly successful in other developing countries.
Health and education are also crucial issues for Amerindian communities. Special consideration must be given to salaries, incentives, and benefits of personnel working in these fields in order to attract them to the hinterland areas. In the area of health, there is an overall need for improvement of the available health facilities, as well as two specific policies Government is recommended to pursue. First, implement a system of vector control in key areas. Second, begin a program that emphasizes preventative medicine through education, giving due recognition to the place of traditional Amerindian healers. The focus on education should stress the need for many more schools, particularly secondary schools, to be built in the hinterland regions, as well as making greater efforts to gear the curricula more appropriately to the Amerindian students and their needs. In the interim, preparatory training must be offered for Amerindians who do not have the entrance requirements to enter institutions of higher education. In addition, teachers should have to undergo specific course work during their training to sensitize them to the particular issues one faces when teaching in Amerindian communities. Innovative education methods must be developed for adult education in order to bring adults up to basic literacy and numeracy levels to allow them to interact with the wider society. Integrated training complexes should be established to provide training and education in academic, technical, vocational, and adult programs.
Certain legislative and governmental issues must be addressed as well. A system of national consultation must be instituted to review the Amerindian Act. A body of national guidelines and bylaws are needed to govern Amerindian village administration based on regular, democratic elections and clearly articulated roles for village captains and councillors. Finally, legislation to protect Amerindian cultural and intellectual property must be put into place.
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1. Basic Orientations
The overriding objective of the Urban Development and Housing Sector is to make Guyanas cities more habitable places with improved access to housing, basic services and amenities.
2. Summary of the Principal Issues and Constraints
The fundamental constraint facing the sector is an absence of proactive, integrated planning for urban infrastructure projects and implementation programs. This lack of planning affects, and is affected by, several other factors hindering development in the sector. For instance, the shortage of well trained staff and poor working conditions have obvious ramifications for the work being produced, an issue that is addressed throughout this Strategy document. Furthermore, a weak infrastructural base keeps costs high and execution of development work difficult. Unfortunately, there is no capital available from the Central Government to improve and maintain the infrastructure, and municipalities do not have an adequate tax base to generate revenue of their own.
Since most of the land around Georgetown is sugar or agricultural land owned by the State, there is a scarcity of available land for housing. When this is combined with the high cost of mortgages, home ownership becomes increasingly unlikely. Finally, the insufficient and dilapidated condition of the water and sewage system has created severe problems for the further development of urban areas, particularly Georgetown.
3. Policy Priorities and Their Technical Justification
Since little can be accomplished if the sectors financing does not improve, the revaluation of properties, particularly in the rural areas where property has not been revalued since 1975, is suggested as a means increase the financial viability of the municipalities. Urban areas must be made more financially viable by increasing employment opportunities. Developing export promotion zones and industrial estates is the most effective way to create the necessary employment. In order to attract business to Guyana, efficient transportation must be available which will require the improvement of the airport and port facilities. Also, technical training institutions should be made more available and their curriculum more compatible with the demands of the new business.
This strategy also recognizes the need to curtail urban sprawl, particularly in Georgetown. This will require a three-part policy: (i) allocate State land to a greenbelt (ii) encourage higher-density housing for the middle class, and (iii) establish secondary centers outside the greenbelt, with road access to the main city. Areas of the greenbelt that already have been irreparably lost to erosion should be ceded to urban development. Finding a method to redirect urban sprawl has become increasingly important as the current urban infrastructure lacks the capacity to handle the quickly increasing population rates, particularly in the provision of an adequate supply of potable water and proper sewage.
The roles, functions, and relationships of the statutory bodies related to urban development and housing within the municipalities need to be clarified and redefined so they can better execute their duties. Public awareness of urban planning efforts should be raised as well, particularly in relation to environmental concerns. Finally, urban zoning regulations need to be updated and their enforcement strengthened to address issues of public health and property values, as well as preserve the architectural heritage of Georgetown.
The goals of the housing policies are to increase the supply of housing and enhance the capacity of the lower and middle income groups to purchase and rent housing while keeping the mortgage finance institutions financially viable over the long term. Establishing funds for rental and mortgage supplements for low-income families, as well as a rediscount line for mortgages in the Central Bank are some of the recommendations put forth to achieve these ends. These subsidies will not only assist low and middle-income families to acquire housing, they will also allow for the necessary reforms of the mortgage finance institutions, such as closing the GCMFB and redefining the role and operating procedures of the NBS. Also, if the financial institutions are to remain solvent, laws and regulations must also be strengthened to allow them to recover collateral in cases of default. Similarly, reforms in rental regulations must be pursued, clearly affirming the right of the landlord to recover property at the termination of the contract and the power of the tenant to seek recourse when agreements have not been adequately met. This should lead to an expansion in the supply of rental housing available.
The shortage of land for housing in urban areas must be alleviated by making land available in freehold to entrepreneurs who will commit to constructing housing on the lots, while Government commits to supplying the necessary infrastructure services. Government will also supply serviced lots to needy families, using a rigorous and objective selection process, and work to regularize the situation of squatters. In the case of State land occupied by squatters, freehold title will be granted in exchange for a supplemented mortgage with the NBS and, in the case of private lands, the land will be returned to its rightful owner or compensation will be offered and the squatter will be granted title and mortgage.
Institutionally, the quality and efficiency of the staff must be improved through in-house and on-the-job training, better equipment, and implementation of a one-year program at the University of Guyana aimed at improving administrative capabilities. Municipalities must work to become more pro-active, preparing town planning schemes and physical development plans using the most appropriate technology, ideas, and theories as guidance. Better coordination between the Central Housing and Planning Authority and the municipalities is a necessary part of this goal, as a great deal of construction is currently undertaken without permission and without meeting approved building standards because municipalities are not always given the precise guidelines concerning building permission. Municipalities will also be made more effective if their ability to implement policies is strengthened and the Municipal and District Councils Acts, drafted during the 1960s, are upgraded to accommodate current realities.
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1. Basic Orientations
The overall objective of regional and local structures is to create a framework within which communities can participate in the planning and execution of development projects and programmes in their areas and development efforts can be more effective in the ten administrative regions of Guyana. This will require capacity building, clarification of roles and responsibilities, sustainable financing and structural reorganisation for regional and local governments.
2. Summary of the Principal Issues and Constraints
The principal constraints that inhibit regional and local development center around the structure and relationship of the governing bodies. The constitutional provisions for regional and local government are not fully understood and accepted by the governing bodies or the officers charged with implementing the system. The legislation that defined the roles and responsibilities of the Regional Democratic Councils (RDCs) and their administrative officers is unclear, and the delineation of jurisdiction between the RDCs and the Neighborhood Democratic Councils (NDCs) is very confusing. Despite the system of regionalisation there is a tendency for the service ministries to centralise their operations, leaving the lines between RDCs, Regional Executive Officers (REOs) and the central ministries blurred. Finally, the existence of three tiers of local government, namely the Supreme Congress of the People, the National Congress of Local Democratic Organs, and the People's Cooperative Units, is unnecessary and adds to the perception that local government is unwieldy and bureaucratic.
Effective functioning of the RDC is prevented by legislation that limits its executive power in setting policy and directing the regional administration, and dependence on Central Government for funding means that the RDC is more accountable to the Central Government than to the people who elected it. Lack of strategic development planning at the regional level is also the result of insufficient information systems, in-house auditing, an inappropriate system of line item budgeting and the absence of an independent revenue base for the regions. Similarly, (NDC) lack autonomy because they depend on the regional and central governments for their annual budgets, and all actions are subject to approval by the Minister of Local Government. Most fundamentally, of course, the local and regional governments, like many other sectors in the Guyanese economy, suffer from a lack of adequately trained administrative, technical and clerical staff.
3. Policy Recommendations and Their Technical Justification
Despite consensus that the existing regional system of administration is not functioning well, no alternative structures have been seriously explored and drastic structural reform does not appear to be a consideration for the near future. Several recommendations for structural improvements in the administrative, jurisdictional and legislative areas have been put forth, however. The demarcation of jurisdiction and responsibilities between Central Government, line ministries and regional councils; between the region and the NDCs; and between the region and NGOs must be clearly stated and made available to all in a reference manual, and inactive tiers of governance will be eliminated. Clarification of responsibilities should be codified in legislation, and a unified and comprehensive document on the constitutional, regulatory and operational provisions by which all levels of public administration are to be guided must be drafted. Regional Councils must be further decentralised in order to increase their authority and accountability in approving larger contracts, and the NDCs should be granted control over a higher level of discretionary funds. Government will allocate approximately five percent of its budget to the RDCs and NDCs, and consideration will be given both to the introduction of regional and local taxes and to legal provisions which mandate that a small percentage of revenue from natural resources in each region be turned over to the RDCs and NDCs of that region. The introduction of and training for management information systems for both human and financial resources, as well as training in administration of donor-supported national economic and social policies for local and regional officials, will improve the effectiveness, forward planning and monitoring of programmes. A review of the three-tiered structure will be carried out to determine if regional governments should be envisaged as administrative arms of the Central Government or as fully elected bodies with considerable autonomy.
The Ministry of Local Government and the regions should embark immediately on a structured strategic planning exercise which will inform the upcoming fiscal year and reflect the priorities and policies laid out in the National Development Strategy. A Financial Management Improvement Project Unit in the Ministry of Finance will be necessary to respond to changes in the financial management system that will result from the overall review of the administrative system for regional and local government. A system of programme budgeting, to be integrated into this Unit, will be introduced into the public service with phased implementation starting with the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Local Government and the regional administrations. The programme budgeting system, to replace the line item system, will be enhanced by improved accounting systems, procedures and performance supported by a computerised management system. Currently, there is an absence of strategic focus in development projects which has resulted in dispersed impact and duplication of effort, further straining limited financial and human resources. An appropriate information system must be designed and implemented to address the weak programme planning and imprecise decision-making with regard to allocation of financial resources, and the deployment of personnel. Improvements in the system of approval and disbursement of funds by the Ministry of Finance should also be pursued.
Government plans for the management of infrastructure, detailed in Chapter 38, are based on contracting out most maintenance work to the private sector. For the Buildings Division, this suggests that concentration on project management, cost control and monitoring of contractors would be more cost effective. Regional administrations occasionally be called on for road maintenance and rehabilitation work, however, and the problems of excessive equipment down time, high repair frequency, and the improper and inefficient use of equipment will have to be addressed. This will require a comprehensive road equipment management audit by the Ministry of Local Government which will classify, catagorise and review the frequency of repair and maintenance for the appropriate equipment and machinery. A shift toward a technology-based mode of operation will help the Ministry responsible for infrastructure fulfill its mission, as will salary increases and better training for positions in the sector, as stated throughout the National Strategy.
The role for regional and local governments in specific sectors is discussed in their respective chapters. Chapter 19 establishes guidelines for restructuring the institutional structure of the health care system in order to improve the quality and coverage of health services throughout Guyana. It concentrates on simplifying lines of authority, involving communities more deeply in the planning for and management of hospitals and strengthening the management capabilities and procedures throughout the system. In the education sector, a school-based management system should be established to compliment the regionalisation effort. If this is to be translated into meaningful educational outcomes, clearer technical definitions of responsibilities and roles at the level of the Regional Democratic Councils of Regional Education Officers, their subcommittees, and Regional Executive Officers, are necessary. Chapter 28 details the institutional arrangements for agriculture, which recommend more responsibility to the RDCs and local governments as opposed to the Ministry of Agriculture and a more clearly defined relationship between the agricultural extension officer and the Regional Executive Officer. Obviously a major concern is ensuring that there is trained staff to carry out the administrative requirements and duties of the regional authorities, as well as offering training to the councilors in the RDCs and NDCs who are largely unacquainted with correct management and parliamentary procedures. Each region should establish induction training programmes, as well as other more specialised training, to ensure officers can function effectively. Regional Governments may also supplement their staff by recruiting persons who served in the previous village and district council system whose experience would be well placed to perform the required tasks.