A new, easy and fast process for remigrating to Guyana as interest grows
By Kurt Campbell
The Guyana government is pushing ahead with plans to harness the expertise, talent, and investment potential from thousands of Guyanese currently living abroad.
The new Diaspora and Remigration Unit within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation anticipates a heightened level of interest by Guyanese looking to remigrate and as such, has engaged in a renewed effort to make remigration convenient and expeditious.
The unit has sought to remodel the Re-migrant Scheme to address many of the difficulties Guyanese in the diaspora encountered previously when resettling in Guyana.
A brochure – “Re-migrating to Guyana” – which clearly outlines the process for returning to Guyana, can be found on the website of the Ministry along with the websites of Guyanese Embassies and High Commissions overseas.
A Guyanese citizen, who is 18 years and above, and who has been residing legally overseas for a minimum of five consecutive years, and is now returning home, qualifies for all tax exemptions being offered by the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) under the scheme.
Foreign Secretary, Robert Persaud told the News Room on Thursday that the unit, through its renewed efforts, has sought to address the information gap and hassle that previously characterised the scheme.
In September, the government reintegrated diaspora and re-migration matters into the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, promising an enhanced, sustained, and coordinated engagement with all Guyanese abroad.
The Foreign Secretary said Guyanese will soon be allowed to apply for remigration online in accordance with the law, ending a previous process that insisted on physical applications and the movement of information among several agencies.
“One of the irritants to the process was a lack of synergy between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and the Guyana Revenue Authority… now the Ministry processes the applications and then make recommendations to GRA, who then grants the tax exemptions,” Persaud explained.
He cautioned that the granting of tax exemptions is not automatic, as the GRA is now being allowed to do its own assessment. The Foreign Secretary explained too that this is among the safeguards in place to guard against abuse of the system.
“Yes, there are safeguards, strict safeguards. Two entities, which have to more or less approve the process is an additional built in safeguard,” the Foreign Secretary noted.
He could not provide statistics on how the re-migrant scheme worked in the past, noting that with records previously scattered across agencies, it was hard to track but the new system allows for that type of data collection.
The Foreign Secretary assured that the government was also looking to stem the tide of migration and keep Guyanese with skills and capital at home.
He said while the government continues to provide opportunities through job creation and social and economic amenities, there is little that can be done about the pull factors.
“There are the push factors that government policies can address but there are the pull factors abroad that are beyond our control,” he said.
The Foreign Secretary said the government is serious about creating a country where Guyanese would want to stay and build.
According to an analysis of the Guyanese diaspora done by the Washington based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), only about half of Guyanese now live within the borders of Guyana, with the remainder scattered in diaspora communities across the globe.
The analysis found that Guyana’s emigration rate is one of the highest in the world, numbering about 30,000 annually, a sizable portion for a country with a total population that has never reached one million.