All the private entities in the Region Six are complaining about a shortage of labour, and according to President Ali during a press conference on Friday in New Amsterdam, Region Six (East Berbice -Corentyne), this is a national complaint.
The Head of State, who was wrapping a two-day visit to the region said Government is currently combing across the entire country to find available labour. Ali pointed out that in the construction sector in Region Six, there is a need for an additional 600 skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled workers.
“This is just to deliver the houses that we plan on doing this year,” Ali said.
Government is currently on a housing drive as it pushes to develop 50,000 house lots over a five-year period at an average of 10,000 per year. With the new house lots comes an increasing demand for the construction of houses.
According to Ali, the housing drive which is national has created a demand for labour that the country does not have. He pointed out that Guyanese living in the Caribbean might be able to fill a percentage of the gap in Region Six.
“We are seeing a lot of remigration from Suriname. A lot of skilled persons are coming back from there, from Barbados –from the Caribbean especially. This tells you that they are responding to the opportunities home here.”
The labour shortage impacting development in Region Six is not a new occurrence.
In November 2021, members of the Central Corentyne Chamber of Commerce (CCCC) had told Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh that the shortage of labour was having a significant impact on the business sector in the region.
Chambers noted that in the construction industry, Venezuelan nationals are a better option for labour as are more punctual at their work sites and attend work daily, unlike locals.
“It is just that many Guyanese do not want to work,” one Chamber member said back then.
Past CCCC President, Muhammed Rafeek called for a database on available labour.
In May last year, Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo told the diaspora that there is a severe labour shortage, particularly for some types of skills.
“It’s hard to find, even for the housing sector now, carpenters and construction people in many areas. You may have to allow them if they want to bring in 500 Mexicans to work on this project, complete it and then leave. So, you may have to allow it because if you don’t, and you take labour from the existing market then what happens is the prices go up and you have scarcity, and it would affect your capital programmes,” Jagdeo said.