In giving up his British citizenship, Carl Greenidge issued a statement which contains the following words; “UK citizenship and residence enabled me to take advantage, largely free of cost to my parents, of wide-ranging educational opportunities which I would not have been in a position to access or finance had I remained in Guyana.
“I was subsequently able to gain invaluable employment and vocational experience in the employ of UK Government agencies.”
There is nothing morally questionable about the pathway Greenidge took. What Greenidge did exists in the realm of both common sense and self-preservation.
Greenidge made use of an occasion that all humans have done since time immemorial. But there is a caveat. Humans do not have equal reach in society. Some get that advantage and they throw it away. Some never get it. Those who do not get it strive within their disadvantaged situation to eke out an existence. History is replete with such success stories.
I have argued for decades now in these columns that I am not in favour of a policy where Governments in Guyana invite diaspora folks for employment position without analyzing the local situation since Guyana’s economy suffered a collapse from the 1980s onwards.
When President Jagdeo took Hoyte’s Economic Recovery Programme to greater lengths in the 21st century, Guyana was still an impoverished land of severe opportunity limitations in every sphere of life.
Even though the economy had opened up under Hoyte and expanded after 1992 right up to the present time, Guyana remains behind all CARICOM countries in the area of human resource. The lack of employment and education opportunities that began with the collapsed economy in the early eighties has not disappeared. Its severity has been greatly reduced but it is still there
We are in the year 2019. That would be almost forty years since the economy suffered devastating deterioration. Yet on the 3rd of October in 2019, Vice Chancellor of UG, Dr. Paloma Mohamed told a public function that UG has not got the resources for attracting the kind of staff that is needed.
Here are some words from her that have to be contexualized when successive governments here overlook local talent and bring in qualified people from the diaspora.
“A lot of time, people would say that ‘UG is not producing research, UG is not producing the kinds of publications that we want to see’. The reason why this is the case is because we have failed to attract and retain the kind of pedigree and the level of staff that we need.
“That’s just because, again, back to resources…the current salaries paid to their staffers are incapable of financially sustaining them. There are only some instances where persons stay due to family ties or research work.”
Take this statement and juxtapose it against what Greenidge said. Let’s repeat Greenidge’s echo for emphasis; “UK citizenship and residence enabled me to take advantage, largely free of cost to my parents, of wide-ranging educational opportunities which I would not have been in a position to access or finance had I remained in Guyana”.
Throughout my media career I have argued on this page that diaspora Guyanese benefited from glorious opportunities in foreign lands which enabled them to reach academic peaks that untold numbers in Guyana could not have accessed. But they made sacrifice and they acquired relevant skills.
My ideological position is inflexible and definitive – our rulers have to recognize such grit and not give preference to diaspora people who had opportunities the locals longed for.
Successive governments beginning with Desmond Hoyte in 1985 through to all PPP presidents right up to the current head of government, Mr. Granger, have chosen skills from the diaspora overlooking our local talent simply because the curriculum vitae of the foreign Guyanese was taller. As an opinion-maker, I will continue to rant against this misguided policy.
Twice in this column, I rejected what I consider as inherently insulting, the act of bestowing on Adam Harris, with forty years service to journalism inside of Guyana and Dr. Mark Kirton, with forty years service to academia inside of Guyana, the award of Arrow of Achievement and in that same batch in the same year, a Guyanese who lived 30 consecutive years outside of Guyana was given the CCH (see my column of Saturday, June 3, 2017; “Politicians in all countries use national awards as patronage.”
You do not treat people like this who stayed and gave their knowledge to other Guyanese who stayed too. I am not against expatriate Guyanese taking important jobs in Guyana; I just feel if we have local talent available, their sacrifice must be recognized.
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