A matter of compensation? Editorial
Guyana Chronicle
June 28, 2002

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THE issue of developing countries receiving compensation in some form from developed countries for the loss of skilled and trained personnel to the latter is gaining increasing interest and creating debates at various levels and fora.

Guyana is one of those countries adversely affected by migration of such personnel, especially to North America, and this trend does not seem to have a resolution in the near future.

The already grave situation is now aggravated with globalisation and liberalisation of trade and movement of human capital and in a competitive world those who have the "stamina" will survive.

One top diplomat here contends that the solution to the problem is paying more lucrative salaries. In theory that may be true, but how practical is the implementation of such a solution?

Most governments in the developing world would love to pay more generous and lucrative salaries, but their countries are so poverty stricken, saddled with huge debt burdens and various disasters of all sorts that in many cases they can just afford to import the minimum essentials to keep them going. Ironically, many of these problems, like the debt issue, have their origins in the foreign and fiscal policies of the developed countries and the international financial institutions which they control.

Now in the guise of liberalisation, developed countries are taking away the already limited trained personnel who the developed nations have invested massive sums to train.

What many are now beginning to recognise is that the competition that forms the basis of international trade under the globalised system is not on a level playing field.

The gap between the economies of the developed and developing worlds is so wide that it is virtually impossible for the latter to compete with the economic giants. It is like putting a donkey cart to race with a Ferrari.

The continued draining of skills will also significantly decrease the capacity of developing economies to compete in a world economy that has been declared to be driven by competition.

Secretary General of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Mr. Edwin Carrington, in an address on the occasion of CARICOM Day in Canada recently, was dead on target when he said: "We know that millions of dollars invested by the Caribbean Community in developing skills and providing training to further our development agenda have redounded to the benefit of other countries, Canada included. It may be argued that there are limited opportunities in the Caribbean and incomparable financial returns and working conditions for such skilled personnel in the developed countries. Even if this were so, as indeed it often is, a case still exists in the face of major national recruitment drives, especially by developed countries, for our countries to be compensated by some sort of capital grant resources to enable them to train replacements."

He continued: "It is a matter which is serious enough and it is felt in some quarters in the region that it should be considered by the G-8 countries, given the significant number of skilled personnel currently being recruited from our already human-resource depleted societies."

It is therefore to be hoped that at the CARICOM Heads of Government Conference here next week this crucial issue will be a prominent item on the agenda with some concrete proposals going before the leaders.