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The consequence of crime & violence on socioeconomic outcomes in Guyana

first_imgLike in many other countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, Criminal activities are a major issue in Guyana – particularly crimes against people and property (U.S. Crime & Safety report, 2016).Local media reports indicated, in 2015, increased levels of criminal activity throughout Guyana (though it was not reported for what period). However, an independent review of documented criminal activities from 2013 to 2015 indicated that while press reporting showed a dramatic increase in crime, the increase in most categories was in single digits for 2014-2015.In addition, 2015 statistics were overall well below levels of 2013. Serious crimes, namely murder and armed robbery, are common. According to information from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Guyana’s 2012 homicide rate was 17 per 100,000 people – the fourth highest murder rate in South America; behind Venezuela, Colombia and Brazil.Guyana’s murder rate is almost four times higher than that of the U.S. (U.S. Crime & Safety report, 2016).Criminals are often organized, travel in groups of two or more, and conduct surveillance on their victims. In the business and shopping districts especially, armed robberies occur regularly. The local media reported a total of 140 incidents of armed robbery in 2015, but it is likely that many incidents go unreported.Despite a rigorous licensing requirement for the average person to own a firearm, criminals regularly use weapons. Handguns, knives, machetes, or “cutlasses” tend to be the weapons of choice. Criminals have acted brazenly, and Police officers have been both victims and perpetrators of assaults and shootings.It is also worthwhile to mention that in addition to reported crimes in Guyana, there are a number of unreported crimes that perhaps occur on a daily basis, such as the common pick-pocket robbers and those who break into parked vehicles, or steal vehicle mirrors, and so on.For Guyana, the major consequence resulting from the crime and violence situation on socioeconomic outcomes is that this has been the primary causation — both historically and presently perhaps to a lesser extent — of a high level of emigration, and by extension a great degree of ‘brain drain’ in Guyana. In other words, a large number of the educated Guyanese population has migrated to foreign countries, and this phenomenon has indisputably been a key contributor towards Guyana remaining largely underdeveloped; particularly the socio-economic strata, and especially against the backdrop of the history of political crimes in Guyana’s context.Monetary costs of crime and violenceOver the last five years, the Government of Guyana has expended US$604.67 million (equivalent to G$124.86 billion), representing direct costs in the security sector. This figure is thus safely reflective of the level of seriousness and cause of concern of the crime and violence situation in Guyana. It must also be noted that this is not reflective of private security costs by both individuals and firms in Guyana – which, if one were to carry out a survey, would amount to substantial sums in dollar values annually.Economic and social multiplier effectsAccording to data regarding global migration flows published by the UN Migration Agency (IOM), inward migration to Guyana up to 2015 was 15,384. In 2015, the immigrant population of Guyana was 2.01 percent of the total resident population. On the other hand, outward migration from Guyana up to the same period was a whopping 451,139.In 2015, thirty-seven point zero three percent of all citizens lived outside their country of origin. During the past two decades or so, an unprecedented massive emigration of people out of Guyana to North America had occurred. An average of 6,080 people per year emigrated between 1969 and 1976, increasing to an average of 14,400 between 1976 and 1981.Figures for 1976 showed 43 percent of emigrants went to the United States, 31 percent to Canada, 10 percent to Britain, and 9 percent to the Caribbean. As a consequence of deteriorating economic and political conditions in the 1980s, there were even sharper increases in the emigration rate. Unofficial estimates put the number leaving the country in the late 1980s at between 10,000 and 30,000 annually. Many of these emigrants were middle class professionals who opposed Government’s policies, thus there was a significant and permanent loss of vitally skilled individuals.Taken together, the notion of the high level of emigration rate from which Guyana suffered over the last few decades — which still persists, albeit to a lesser degree as compared to the mass emigration rate recorded about two decades ago – strongly correlates to the underdeveloped status of Guyana’s socio-economic strata. More important to note, however, is that such conclusive inference stems mainly from the crime and violence situation in Guyana, especially within its historic context, wherein Guyana had experienced a unique kind of crime-and-violence situation described as political crimes, which usually occurred during periods of general elections. This was usually in the form of riots and extreme violence fuelled by racist political prerogatives of the country’s politicians, which resulted in an ethnically divided nation. Some level of this historic Guyanese political phenomenon still pervades the economy, but to a lesser extent.The Author is the holder of a MSc. Degree in Business Management, with concentration in Global Finance, Financial Markets, Institutions & Banking from a UK university of international standing.last_img read more