April 29, 2000
In a recent letter Ms Hema Persaud claimed that many remigrants are frustrated, disappointed and financially ruined, ready to abandon their property and leave. She claimed that they were enticed to return by politicians and "brought their hard earned cash, education and experience, and reluctant families to pursue the Guyanese dreams of prosperity that were promised to them". However "they encountered bureaucratic indifference at every level, ministerial arrogance, inordinately long waits and were left to sink or swim". She also alleged bribes were requested and after referring to a previous Stabroek News editorial which had called for a positive immigration policy to encourage educated and experienced Guyanese to return, settle and work here she urged overseas Guyanese to beware in view of the experiences suffered by some who had come.
In response Mr George Munroe, the chairman of the Guyana Remigrants Association, said that the association will soon be active and are prepared to deal firmly with "any bureaucratic and political nonsense that remigrants encounter'. This is good news as we believe the policy of encouraging Guyanese to return is sensible and indeed essential. Their skills are sorely needed and some who have returned are already doing a good job and making an important contribution. In this context the new Secretary to the Treasury, Mr Claude Chang, formerly a learned contributor to our letter columns when overseas, is most welcome. But credible reports indicate that some still experience hassles and delays and if the association can act as a liaison and help them to get their business dealt with quickly and efficiently that will be an important development.
The quickest way to get the skills now needed in so many areas is to import them. Hundreds of thousands of Guyanese live overseas. Some have done well. If these people can be persuaded to return they can make a very important contribution. But they must be dealt with fairly. It is quite wrong to ask them to come and then give them a runaround. Perhaps the Association, based on the experience of its members, can clearly identify for governments existing bottlenecks and problem areas with a view to having these rectified and sorted out.
We have suggested in fact that the government go further and invite skilled West Indians to come here and settle and even look further afield. It is more than likely that the National Development Strategy will open up for discussion many new possibilities. In every case this will require human resources for implementation. An immigration policy of encouraging new settlers can be geared to meet this and can give it the push needed to take it off the drawing board.
Ms Persaud should give Mr Munroe details of the incidents she referred to so some action can be taken.