Government looking at Labour intensive programmes to generate employment By Neil Marks
Guyana Chronicle
August 24, 2002

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THE economy grew faster than expected for the first half of this year and the Government is looking at converting some of its capital programmes into labour intensive programmes to generate employment across the country, President Bharrat Jagdeo announced yesterday.

This decision was reached following two days of meetings called by the President with his Cabinet ministers to discuss national issues such as crime, the economy, governance, education, land titling and setting a legislative agenda for the near future.

Following the discussions, President Jagdeo said that all of the Government's funded programmes for the first half of this year were achieved.

In this regard, he said a decision was taken to look at how the capital programme for the rest of the year could be carried out in a manner to create jobs.

He said the Government's ability to pay a wage increase this year remains low, but stated that there will be an increase, though not great.

He noted that negotiations between the Ministry of Labour and the unions were ongoing.

The President pointed out that a five per cent increase would be equal to $1.5B.

In relation to setting the legislative agenda, Mr. Jagdeo said the discussion focused on a series of law reforms to support the Police and law enforcement agencies in their fight against crime.

He said the Government plans to soon table legislation in the National Assembly to better monitor deportees.

In addition, he said that amendments to the Criminal Law Act will provide for cases of domestic terrorism, wherein people who damage property with the intent of creating terror and harming other people would be severely dealt with by the courts.

The Racial Hostility Act is also to be toughened in an effort to take firm action against those who promote racism in Guyana, he said.

The Evidence Act is also slated for amendment, providing for video tapes and other electronic sources to be used in prosecution.

The amendments will also significantly increase the fine and jail term for gun crimes, President Jagdeo said.

Police Commissioner, Mr. Floyd McDonald also briefed the meeting.

According to President Jagdeo, a policy paper on Community Policing was discussed, noting that this came out from the Police recommendations for the improvement of Community Policing in Guyana.

Land titling was another issue discussed, and the President said that the old system of converting leased land to titles prevents the process from moving as fast as the Government would like.

He said that Minister of Housing and Water, Mr. Shaik Baksh pointed out that he was looking at the distribution of 7,000 tiles this year, but there is a backlog of some 20,000.

The President said that the job at hand is to convert some 50,000 leases into freehold titles, and the vision is to have 20,000 distributed per annum.

A concept paper for the establishment of the Guyana Law School was also discussed and Mr. Jagdeo said he is to meet students and lecturers next week for further talks on this issue.

The President said he wished that he had the participation of the Opposition on these issues, adding that their non-participation is sometimes a drag on the process of moving forward.

"I want to solve problems that are affecting my people and I think at least the similar consideration should guide the action of the (main Opposition People's National Congress Reform)", he stated.