With the rapid pace of Guyana’s development, Vice President Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo said the country would eventually need to import labour to support the increasing demand sometime in the near future.
He made the comments during an online discussion on Guyana’s oil revenues and the nation’s Natural Resource Fund (NRF).
The Vice President pointed out that economies developing as fast as Guyana’s often “overheat” as the demand for labour grows with it; according to Dr Jagdeo, it can lead to “inflation” and hiked labour costs as the needed capacity does not exist.
But Guyana does not plan to go down this route.
“So, we [would] constantly have to import capacity, supplies capacity – that is more supplies into the country and contracting capacity, not to displace locals but to cater for the long-term growth,” he explained. “If we want to keep growing at the pace that we are growing without it becoming too inflationary and counterproductive then we will have to import labour.”
Dr. Jagdeo said that there is already a “severe shortage” of highly skilled labour in some parts of Guyana; the large majority relating to oil and gas, its supporting sectors and the construction sector.
But with the importation of labour, Dr Jagdeo noted that it will be done in a “balanced way” to avoid heavy competition with locals.
“Because you do not want a man who is looking for a job see you bring in someone for work while they are out of work. It is a balancing act, and we have to be careful,” the Vice President explained.
The government has undertaken major infrastructural projects to be executed like the Amaila Falls Hydro project, the Gas-to-Energy project and the new Demerara River crossing – projects that would need highly skilled labour to complete.
The Vice President had said that the government is considering an “active but careful immigration policy” as an option to help fill the gap.