Creating a Diaspora ministry, allowing immigration from CARICOM could serve Guyana well – IMF

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The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has urged Guyana to urgently review its migration laws as well as find other creative means of attracting expertise from the Guyanese Diaspora to help develop its oil sector.

With the low base in education and growing demand for skilled labour, the IMF articulated in its September report that the country needs to make a serious effort to build human capital by improving the education and health system.

Its directors said such conditions are essential if the population is to effectively benefit from the wealth generated by the production of oil and other natural resources, as well as to generate ways to add the value needed to achieve the desired diversification of the country’s economy.

It warned that Guyana should not expect this matter to be fixed overnight but in a medium- to long-term time frame. To truly maximise gains from the sector and ensure a Guyanese-centered oil sector, it called on the authorities to find ways and means of attracting the talent pool of the Guyanese Diaspora.

The IMF said many Gulf countries including Kuwait have done this with success. In this respect, it said labour market regulations allowing immigration from the Caribbean as a start, including within CARICOM, would be key.

For encouraging the influx of Diaspora, the Fund said the international experience suggests a multipronged approach including with creating a Diaspora ministry. It added that, for some countries, especially in the transition economies, encouraging joint venture enterprises with Diaspora members and providing access to professional networks has worked quite well.

It said that lowering local content requirements in energy policies would also be important in the short term as this enables enough time for capacity building.

The Guyana government has not only acknowledged the implications of labour supply shortage but has set out to address same. In its 2022 Mid-Year Report, the Government had said a consultant was engaged to review gaps in the labour market and support the design of training and appropriate policy advice to resolve the ongoing issue.

The country’s Vice President, Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo, has also stated that the country may very well have to consider an active but careful migration policy soon as oil development ramp up will fully absorb the labour market. The Vice President had said the government is examining this closely to ensure there is careful calibration going into the future.

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