Jul 21, 2016 News
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Second Vice-President, Carl Greenidge, said yesterday that Guyana still tops the list as the country with the highest rate of emigrating tertiary-educated citizens.
Greenidge was at the time delivering the feature address at the opening session of the workshop on Migration and Development: Mobilizing Financial and Business Know-How Resources Generated through Migration at the Cara Lodge Hotel.
He said that although it is usually a good thing for a country to be featured at the top of any global ranking, the reality which Guyana faces concerning losing its educated folk is something which his government is committed to fixing.
According to the 2016 Migration and Remittances Fact Book 93 per cent of the total persons leaving Guyana have a tertiary education. Coming in second is Haiti with 75.1 per cent and Trinidad and Tobago third with 68.2 per cent.
Greenidge said that the presence of a large number of Guyanese in the Diaspora is responsible for a large inflow of remittances into the country. He said that as a consequence, remittances or “small piece” as it is locally called, have become part and parcel in the process of planning by the government.
“Remittances are sent to facilitate improving the wellbeing and welfare of relatives and dependents left at home and to purchase assets,” said Greenidge.
He reported that recently there was a change in the use of the money. He said that now persons are directing their attention towards funding investment projects. As a consequence, the Minister said that remittances have now become one of the important factors in the macro economic performance of the country.
In 2012, the inflow of remittances to Guyana amounted to US$469M, according to the Minister this represented 16% of the nation’s GDP.
Greenidge said that the government ought to take advantage of the movement of citizens into other jurisdictions. However, he highlighted that the high cost for sending remittances home affects the true benefit which can be obtained from these funds.
He said that in 2015 the average cost of sending remittances to Guyana was at an average of 7.73% of the total sum. Greenidge recounted that in some cases the rate is 10%. According to him these rates are considerably high.
Greenidge relayed that the high rates cause the savings of overseas-based Guyanese to be lost abroad as an inconsiderate amount is deducted thereby curtailing the development of projects initiated by individuals.
According to him the overpricing is an issue on the agenda for development. He is of the belief that if these costs are reduced, investment possibilities can emerge.
Greenidge said that the workshop which ends today is aimed at finding ways in which remittances and the cost of remittances by way of partnerships can develop best practices which can be channelled in a way so benefits can be maximized.
Also addressing the gathering was Jermaine Grant. He is the Programme Officer for the Caribbean from the African Caribbean and Pacific-European Union Migration Action within the International Organisation for Migration (ACP-EU Migration Action, IOM).
Grant said that remittances have become quite topical and represent big business for countries. He said that the ACP-EU Migration Action is a demand driven program funded by the EU and implemented by the IOM.
The programme officer said that the programme targets five priorities within the ACP states. These include visas, re-admission, human trafficking, migrants smuggling and remittances.
According to Grant to date the programme has received 10 requests within the Caribbean Region with two centered on remittances. The requesting states were Guyana through the Foreign Affairs Ministry and the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States.
Grant posited that when aggregated remittances are a major source of foreign currency exchange, economic development and meeting social needs of citizens.
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