Wednesday, April 24, 2024

EDITORIAL: Guyana ripe for investing by Bajans

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BARBADOS-GUYANA RELATIONS could be on the rebound after some testy times, fuelled largely by Georgetown’s protracted economic hardships and Bridgetown’s efforts to stem an influx of Guyanese. This renewed hope may have its genesis in the third Barbados-Guyana Joint Commission being signed in Barbados this week.

This low-key diplomatic initiative has served to strengthen ties between the two CARICOM nations at an official level in recent years. On the ground, there has never been any need for any formal structure in bringing the peoples of the two nations together. There has always been movement to and from either nation for well over 100 years, whether to exploit commercial, educational, cultural or personal relations.

Guyanese gained respect in this country’s agricultural industry for their specialised skills in the heyday of the sugar industry, and in recent times have been critical participants in food crop and livestock production. Barbadians contributed significantly as educators and policemen to the then colonial British Guiana.

In the last 30 years there have been shifts in the movement of people, becoming primarily a one-way trek to Barbados given the floundering economic circumstances in Guyana. This was evident by claims seven years ago that over 34 000 Guyanese were living here.

An immigration crackdown by the Democratic Labour Party administration soon after assuming office in 2008 may have stemmed the influx of job seekers, but has not stopped the high numbers visiting.

We should expect Guyanese to come here, especially to be trained for opportunities in the expanding hospitality industry in their homeland.

The pendulum in this see-saw movement of people could very well be shifting, given Guyana’s improving economic fortunes and the recent change in administration in Georgetown. The border dispute between Guyana and Venezuela may find two CARICOM nations – Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago – building closer relations with their CARICOM ally on the South American mainland.

It is for the Barbadian business community to look at exploiting investment opportunities in Guyana whether in agriculture, the hospitality sector or alternate energy. The expertise Barbados has developed even in an area such as the credit union movement is critical for a country that heavily promotes the cooperative movement. Young Barbadians with a pioneering spirit also need to make use of the openings, given diminishing opportunities in North America, Europe or even at home.

Guyana must realise that its destiny lies with a return to good governance practices that give the individual the chance to develop his full potential.

Of the diplomatic initiative, Barbadians must be made aware of how they can fully exploit the opportunities therein.

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