UG debt write-off part of plan to retain skilled labour – Finance Minister

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The government is wiping out the student loans owed by some 11,000 graduates of the University of Guyana (UG) and Finance Minister Dr. Ashni Singh said this move is part of plans to help retain skilled labour in Guyana.

“In order to help retain skilled and qualified labour, we wrote off the existing stock of UG student loans.

“That’s essentially to improve the household balance sheet (for about) 11000 of them who had loans at UG,” the Finance Minister said on Thursday at an Internal Auditors’ Association event in Georgetown.

In the first instance, the government will write off all loans owed by Guyanese who can demonstrate that they completed their studies and graduated.

The loan write-off for students is the first phase of a commitment to make university education free in Guyana by 2025.

And the Finance Minister spoke about this venture in response to concerns raised about the high demand of skilled labour locally.

Labour shortage is a huge problem gripping Guyana now as the economy expands rapidly. And for years, the country has dealt with a ‘brain drain’ phenomenon whereby its skilled labour migrate.

But Dr. Singh said the government is pursuing several ventures to mitigate the issue. One solution unfolding, he said, is ramping up the training of locals.

Aside from the debt wipeout and eventually, free tertiary education, he reminded the gathering that the government is also offering more than 20,000 online scholarships through the Guyana Online Academy of Learning (GOAL).

He also noted that the government wants to help private employers engage communities on available job opportunities. It is believed that there is available labour in communities outside of booming business centres like Georgetown or in Region Three.

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