Constitutional reform: the benefits of citizenship

With the recent discovery of significant carbon hydro resources in Guyana its citizens have been encouraged, especially by politicians, to believe that their quality of life will improve significantly. For centuries, capitalism has proven to be the most durable, flexible and productive system that a human type has invented, but once it alone will not provide continuous equitable development. The ancient belief in ‘cheating’ must be counteracted by sensibly directed state intervention if the masses of people are to benefit properly from their national patronage.

A strong local involvement policy is an important aspect of state policy that must be in place, but given the laissez-faire framework in which it is embedded and the current location of capital, it is unlikely that the result leading to equitable development. In a not too dissimilar way, Guyana obviously needs the help of foreign expertise if it is to maximize its potential but this is already leading to an influx of labor and we are now hearing complaints about prioritization for foreigners. . (‘GHRA highlights discriminatory hiring practices in the oil industry:’ SN: 02/11/2020). For whatever reason, no government, especially a small poor country, should allow foreign labor to negatively affect the welfare of its people. Guyana’s resources are the patronage of all its people and their interest should be protected.

The above trends and contradictions can only be eradicated and put to good use by implementing an overarching policy that focuses on developing a generational and generic physical and social infrastructure – partly as a legacy for future generations. In line with this policy direction, Guyana urgently needs to implement a comprehensive citizenship policy that, among other things, takes into account the needs and expectations of all its citizens, the resources it could reasonably expect in the next generation , and the anticipated foreign labor requirements. Given the specific context, as funding gradually becomes available, as others have done, such a citizenship policy should seek to systematically place significant resources on programs that directly benefit citizens.

For example, Kuwait is a huge oil producing country and when Kuwaiti gets married it gets almost US $ 20,000 from the prince, of which only half has to be paid back on easy terms. Citizens receive a monthly food supply that includes 50 kilos of rice, 50 kilos of sugar, oil, tomato sauce, milk, chicken and baby milk if needed. Having a child gets you an extra US $ 165 a month until that child gets a job at whatever age. Heath care in the public hospitals is free and if you are so ill and need to seek treatment abroad the state pays you to travel abroad and for the treatment. Outside of school, students can apply for scholarships to study for their first degrees and then second at approved universities in the US or Canada. Students who convert to more than a teacher’s monthly salary in those countries are given a monthly allowance. The government helps citizens to find work and if they cannot find a citizen he / she gets about US $ 650 a month until he / she is employed. If citizens work in the private sector or any non-governmental job, they earn close to US $ 3000 a month in addition to their salary.

A few weeks ago we betted a prince from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) where world-class healthcare is free for everyone and when it’s not available locally, the government pays for advanced treatment abroad which includes the cost of an accompanying family member. Among other things, education is also free to secondary level and the government provides scholarships for bright students to foreign universities, including meeting their living costs. There are a number of free housing and land grants, and if listed in one of the housing programs, a free home will be provided. The Marriage Fund makes generous grants towards the cost of marriages and there is a children’s allowance. The cost of using electricity and water is heavily subsidized and negligible. Citizens receive preferential treatment for the public sector and some private sector jobs and are generally paid higher than exiles. Any foreigner wanting to start a business needs to have a UAE citizen as at least 51% partner even if the latter makes no financial input. As a result, some Emiratis charge a sponsorship fee for lending their name to business only (

Partly to maximize the impact of such policies, it is not easy to become a citizen of countries that distribute this kind of largesse to its people: such policies must depend on the idea of ​​citizenship which is constitutionally defined, broad and discriminatory. Guyana has quite liberal citizenship requirements: naturalization for example requires that an applicant must have lived in Guyana for 5 out of the previous 7 years and for 12 months immediately before applying. (

In Kuwait, if your father is Kuwaiti you will get citizenship; alternatively one can apply for citizenship if one legally lives for 20+ years (non-Arab), or 15+ years (Arab), made a significant contribution to Kuwait, your family was in Kuwait before 1965, you married to a Kuwaiti man for 15+ years, your mother is Kuwaiti and your father is either a prisoner of war, deceased or divorced. You must also meet all three of the following conditions: knowing Arabic, having legal work and not committing a crime, being a Muslim, or converting to Islam for 5 years. When you get citizenship your nationality papers state what category of citizenship you have. Dual citizenship is not tolerated.

Of course, any particular interventions must be properly contextualized, eg Guyana has a relatively large and valuable diaspora; is a vital part of the Caribbean Community and not too far in the future hydro-carbon is likely to lose its place as the preferred global energy source. They must also be based on the expected outcomes of overall development. Indeed, depending as they are primarily on oil revenues, the above policies have even become problematic for the oil rich countries ( / media / files / files / df77a3f0 / krane-subsies-pomeps.pdf).

Laissez’s fair capitalism will not lead to equitable development and just as the state has intervened to establish a local content policy to help local capital, it should do so to directly help the citizen become financially and socially secure . The requirement is a policy that facilitates fair and inclusive development.

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