Economists advise A&B to export labour

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As the government of Antigua & Barbuda continues to cope with overstaffing and the private sector growth remains insufficient to absorb job seekers, it has been told that the next best option is to devise a structured scheme of “exporting labour”.
Former Revenue Reform Project Manager and Economist, Everett Christian, has argued that the Republic of Cuba and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) have set an example to follow.
“They do that extremely well. They train people and they send them overseas and when they work overseas they send back remittances,” Christian said, adding that it would require a change to the policy where students on government scholarships are bonded to return home to work.
Economist and Advisor to the Minister of Trade Petra Williams agreed with the suggestion and added that exportation of labour had already begun in sectors such as aviation, but that what was necessary was “becoming more structured and focused in doing it”.
In addition, Trinidad-based Agricultural Economist Omardath Maharaj said that whereas countries across the region had exported labour in the agricultural sector, the same needed to be done in medical and financial services and other sectors where there is a global job market.
At the same time, Christian criticised successive governments for bloating the public service and putting such a strain on the state’s wage budget that, according to him, it could not provide living and competitive wages to workers where they needed it most.
He called for a “manpower audit” to be done across the public sector to determine “the level of staffing that is required to carry out the functions of the various ministers and departments”.
“One of the things I was concerned about was the decision to increase the number of staff at Customs. While I was the project manager for revenue reform, we had done an assessment and determined that the department was overstaffed at that time. With the introduction of the [Automated System for Customs Data] they should be even less demand for additional staff,” he said.
(More in today’s Daily Observer)

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