n ↓Should Venezue­lans re­turn home

it would hurt the econ­o­my.

n ↓Need for greater da­ta on the com­mu­ni­ty.

n ↓Warn­ing that labour mar­ket should not over re­ly on mi­grant work­ers.

As the new year ap­proach­es, the gov­ern­ment will have to make a de­ci­sion on whether to ex­tend the stay of reg­is­tered Venezue­lans in the coun­try and one lo­cal econ­o­mist is warn­ing that any ex­o­dus of Venezue­lan from T&T would sig­nif­i­cant­ly hurt the econ­o­my.

In an in­ter­view with the Busi­ness Guardian, UWI lec­tur­er and econ­o­mist, Dr Roger Ho­sein con­tend­ed if the gov­ern­ment de­cides that they have to leave, then the coun­try will re­turn to an econ­o­my where we strug­gle for work­ers in the non-trad­able sec­tor in par­tic­u­lar, and even in some as­pects of the non-boom­ing trad­able sec­tor.

Ho­sein in­di­cat­ed that he does not think the gov­ern­ment would be able to take such a step at this point in time be­cause the T&T econ­o­my needs the Venezue­lan im­mi­grants that have found them­selves here.

Ac­cord­ing to Ho­sein, in mak­ing a de­ci­sion on whether to ex­tend the stay of the reg­is­tered Venezue­lan im­mi­grants, the gov­ern­ment would have to con­sid­er the ben­e­fits ver­sus the costs.

He ar­tic­u­lat­ed that the costs re­lates to their use of the coun­try’s ba­sic health­care sys­tem, wa­ter net­work and oth­er pub­lic goods. Ho­sein added: “There will al­so be spill over costs as I am sure that there is some de­gree of pros­ti­tu­tion tak­ing place and oth­er so­cial con­se­quences.”

How­ev­er, the econ­o­mist said that the ben­e­fits in turn would be the val­ue they bring. He ar­gued that if the Venezue­lan com­mu­ni­ty has helped to change the work­er pro­duc­tiv­i­ty, the work­er eth­ic, and in­crease the lev­el of out­put in the T&T econ­o­my “then we have to take those sets of val­ue added and com­pare them with the cost and I’m sure that it would be pos­i­tive.”

Over­all, Ho­sein ar­gued that the con­tri­bu­tion of the Venezue­lans would be net pos­i­tive. How­ev­er, he said the process to track the reg­is­tered Venezue­lans in the coun­try needs to be prop­er­ly man­aged.

He stat­ed: “It re­mains very dif­fi­cult when we are not sure of the num­ber of Venezue­lans who are ac­tu­al­ly reg­is­tered in re­la­tion to the num­ber who are not.”

Ho­sein said that this would al­so re­quire that the coun­try pro­vides a sys­tem by which it can bet­ter mon­i­tor and po­lice its bor­ders—this is to en­sure that fur­ther chal­lenges are not posed to the im­mi­gra­tion process if the num­ber of Venezue­lans in the coun­try in­crease via il­le­gal tran­sit as a re­sult of porous bor­ders.

Al­so ad­vo­cat­ing for greater da­ta mech­a­nism and sys­tems to ef­fec­tive­ly man­age the Venezue­lan com­mu­ni­ty is Leigh-Ann Bonair, a con­sul­tant at the In­ter­na­tion­al Or­ga­ni­za­tion for Mi­gra­tion (IOM)—an agency charged with pro­mot­ing the ben­e­fits of or­der­ly and safe mi­gra­tion based on the re­spect of hu­man rights.

Speak­ing at a re­cent vir­tu­al event host­ed by UWI’s De­part­ment of Trade and Eco­nom­ic De­vel­op­ment Unit, Bonair said: “ If we are to en­gage the mi­grants ef­fec­tive­ly, def­i­nite­ly da­ta on their de­mo­graph­ics, their skill lev­els, their ed­u­ca­tion­al lev­els, would be need­ed to en­sure that their en­gage­ments are fruit­ful, pro­duc­tive and ben­e­fi­cial to both the mi­grants and the coun­try as well.”

Bonair re­vealed that in Ju­ly 2019 the IOM launched the Dis­place­ment Track­ing Ma­trix (DTM) ex­er­cise which was geared to­wards mon­i­tor­ing the dis­placed pop­u­la­tions amongst the Venezue­lan mi­grants.

She not­ed that the ex­er­cise was con­duct­ed im­me­di­ate­ly af­ter the gov­ern­ment reg­is­tra­tion ex­er­cise, which en­abled le­gal em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties for Venezue­lan mi­grants.

Ac­cord­ing to Bonair, the DTM was a snap­shot of the de­mo­graph­ic pro­files, char­ac­ter­is­tics, vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties and so­cio-eco­nom­ic sta­tus of the Venezue­lan mi­grants.

Af­ter sur­vey­ing 2,166 re­spon­dents, Bonair high­light­ed that the ex­er­cise dis­cov­ered that the ma­jor­i­ty of re­spon­dents were sin­gle and be­tween the ages of 20 to 34 years old and that 42 per cent of the in­ter­vie­wees had ob­tained sec­ondary lev­el ed­u­ca­tion, while 17 per cent had com­plet­ed ter­tiary lev­el ed­u­ca­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to Bonair, the in­te­gra­tion of the Venezue­lan mi­grants in­to the labour must not be done in a way where it dis­re­gards the lo­cal labour mar­ket.

She added: “We al­so need to op­er­ate in a man­ner that is cog­nisant of the fact that should things change in Venezuela, we are not re­liant on this sup­ply of labour for any of our in­dus­tries or eco­nom­ic ac­tiv­i­ties. We need to en­sure that we do not be­come over re­liant on this source of labour.”

Bonair ar­tic­u­lat­ed that things must be done strate­gi­cal­ly so that should things change in a sud­den mo­ment with re­gard to so­cio-po­lit­i­cal en­vi­ron­ment in Venezuela, T&T would not be in a very dif­fi­cult sit­u­a­tion.

Source: Guardian T&T