Beyond handouts, gov’t has real plan for poverty reduction – Pres. Ali


Creating employment opportunities and facilitating the creation of new businesses are integral to the government’s plan of reducing poverty across Guyana, President Dr. Irfaan Ali has said.

Asked to detail his government’s plan to reduce poverty at a recent diaspora mixer in Los Angeles, California, the Head of State outlined a raft of initiatives being pursued by the government.

Chief among those initiatives is creating disposable income – that is, the actual amount of money people have to spend or save after taxes have been deducted.

“The strategy is to increase disposable income at the family level because you cannot hand out resources as a strategy. You can hand out resources as a stimulus under certain conditions like the pandemic,” President Ali explained.

This statement comes as some have been critical of the government’s distribution of numerous cash grants to several groups of citizens including school children, the elderly, and persons with disabilities. Long-term solutions have been called for instead.

But President Ali pointedly noted that the government’s strategy for poverty alleviation extends beyond providing “handouts”.

He posited that the government remains focused on empowering people to generate wealth, whether through employment opportunities or entrepreneurial activity.

Already, he said that the government is tapping into the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector for numerous jobs. Through this, a number of call centres are being established, to offer people the opportunity of a job.

Expanding food production, even by growing crops like wheat that have never been planted in Guyana, is another avenue for both employment and spurring entrepreneurial activity locally.

Guyana is currently leading food security efforts within the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). Through this, the region hopes to cut its annual multibillion dollar food import bill by encouraging more countries to produce more food, and removing intra-regional trade barriers.

With this focus, the President was sure that scores of Guyanese could generate wealth from producing more food.

Skills training too, the President explained, will be central to creating economic opportunities for people.

“We have to train 6,000 Guyanese to go into the hospitality sector to meet the demand that is coming,” the President said, noting that the growing number of expected hotels alone signals the forthcoming demand.

Meanwhile, the President also explained that improving people’s standard of living also aids poverty alleviation efforts. In doing so, the government intends on upgrading infrastructure and healthcare across the country.

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