Jagdeo moots creation of placement agency for returning Guyanese

By Alim Hassim in New York
Stabroek News
September 29, 1999

President Bharrat Jagdeo has promised to do everything possible to make it easy for Guyanese living overseas to return home and to this end has mooted the setting up of a placement agency.

Addressing hundreds of Guyanese on Sunday at the corner of Liberty Avenue and 127th Street in an area now known as 'Little Guyana', Mr Jagdeo said: "We have to work at home to build that country where [those living overseas] can feel comfortable to return and those who are there would not want to leave."

He said it is a commitment his government has made and will fulfil regardless of the obstacles. "We will not be diverted from this path," he promised.

President Jagdeo said, "It is with mixed feelings that I address you today. I am sad but at the same time happy. Happy that many of you have come out here and you have developed yourselves in various fields.

"We have some of the best minds of our country living over here, making contributions to the development of this country in a very diverse area.

"We have people who have started with nothing. They came from Guyana with nothing and they have advanced and developed their lives materially to the extent where they can now contribute back to society."

A lot of Guyanese, Mr Jagdeo said, want to volunteer in their area of specialty for certain periods of time when they visit Guyana. But "by the time he gets down and meets the permanent secretary [of a ministry], who is usually very busy, and the minister, his holiday is up and he has to come back."

The President said he has been exploring ways of formalizing this and to ensure that there is a central placement agency, so all Guyanese who want to come back and volunteer can contact that agency long before they get home.

Some others, he noted, might just want paid employment on their return to Guyana. He pointed out that there are a few job opportunities which are high paying and are associated with multilateral or bilateral financing "but the people here rarely know about it."

Then, he pointed out, there are some who want to invest in Guyana. Over the last 15 years, he said, there has been an annual inflow of capital of about US$50 million. Mr Jagdeo pointed to the benefits to the country as well as the investor if just 200 of the 500,000 Guyanese here return for investment purposes per year. They can do projects of up to half a million a year, he said.

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Guyana: Land of Six Peoples