The World Bank has singled out Guyana as having one of the highest poverty rates in the Latin America and Caribbean region despite it having one of the fastest growing economies in the region.
In its updated fact sheet on Guyana, the institution said almost half of the country’s population live below US$5.5 per day which equates to very high poverty levels when compared to other countries in the region.
‘Poverty rates are highest in the sparsely populated interior or hinterland where communities have limited access economic opportunities, health care and public services. The country experiences high emigration and brain drain, with 39% of all Guyanese currently residing abroad and roughly half of all Guyanese with a tertiary education having emigrated to the United States,” the World Bank said in its updated fact sheet.
The report by the World Bank has prompted a call by Opposition Leader Aubrey Norton for the government to take immediate action to address the poverty issues and to bridge the economic gap between the hinterland and coastland.
He said the government’s reluctance to give public sector workers a livable wage, further exacerbates the poverty issue.
“Their refusal to give workers a descent and livable income and to take measures to address the extremely high cost of living in Guyana is a clear indication that their approach is not people centered. They are mere copycats for public relations purposes,” the Opposition Leader during a press conference yesterday.
Despite the poverty levels, the World Bank said the country’s economy is expanding at an extraordinary rate, fueled primarily by the expansion of oil output and is expected to remain one of the world’s fastest-growing economies in the medium term.
The institution says poverty reduction will depend on the perforamance of the non-oil economy through job creation, including those linked to public investment projects and local content for the oil sector, as well as the redistribution of resource revenues.