I am committed to working with those who are interested – President Ramotar
– tells packed National Park at 46th Independence Anniversary
Georgetown, GINA, May 26, 2012
President Donald Ramotar this evening stated that he is committed to working with all those who are interested in moving the country forward; noting that Guyanese would like to see all stakeholders working together, which was a dream at independence and today is a major national aspiration.
He said Guyana can achieve the great potential that is often spoken about with political will and trust, and noted that while the 2011 National elections have created new challenges to all the leaders, it is a time to show maturity and to put the interest of the country and people ahead of narrow self-interests.
“No matter what side of the political divide we are on, let us remember that 46 years ago we assumed the responsibility for our own development… This great responsibility which we all carry must never be forgotten,” he urged.
President Ramotar speaking to packed stands at the National Park this evening for the 46th Independence anniversary celebrations, evoked memories of Guyana’s first flag raising ceremony on May 26, 1966.
He recalled the grim struggle and human toll paid along with the sacrifices involved in winning Guyana’s freedom, and reiterated Guyana’s homage to “all of our ancestors who both overtly and covertly made their contributions to the discrediting of the oppressive colonial system. They unreservedly cast their lot in favor of freedom. They fought from liberation from bondage. Tonight we salute their unyielding spirit, their unremitting toil and we embrace their dreams for a better future for their descendants.”
The President urged Guyanese to be optimistic about the future and confident of the sacrifices of those who laid the foundations for the bright and promising future that lies ahead.
“As we focus on the task ahead, may we never lose sight of the economic and political lessons of the past forty six years,” he urged.
Pointing out that Guyana is a small developing nation, President Ramotar said while the economy remains susceptible to market volatilities especially to the adverse effects of climate change, there are other countries with similar vulnerabilities. He urged that whilst developing Guyana “we must be able to see the wisdom in protecting and furthering our national interests and in building political and economic resilience through the establishment of good relations with our neighbours and with other friendly states and by deepening and expanding our participation in regional integration at the level of CARICOM and in wider hemispheric groupings.”
President Donald Ramotar and first lady Deolatchmee Ramotar stand at attention alongside members of the Disciplined Forces minutes before the National Flag was hoisted during Guyana’s 46th Independence Anniversary Celebration
The Head of State observed that the right of the people to elect a government of their choice, the enactment of an inclusive constitution and respect for civil liberties “have all brought about improved national cohesion and created the conditions for increased economic growth.”
Guyana’s unprecedented economic growth over recent years has gained attention within the region and its policies are being analyzed for the lessons they can hold for other countries.
The President pointed out that despite challenges, Guyana’s traditional sectors have continued to bring benefits by creating and sustaining employment, earning valuable foreign exchange and boosting output. However, while these sectors remain pivotal to economic growth, “it is now necessary for them to become modernised and for the emergence of new sectors to lead economic diversification and growth.”
Guyana’s educational system has been an asset producing graduates who have distinguished themselves both at home and abroad, while economic growth has coincided with a rise in the quality of education provided. “We have to continue to improve the delivery of education and configure it to meet the growing demands of the new economy that we are building in an ever growing and competitive world,” the President declared.
Economic transformation and citizens’ future
Guyana’s greatest assets over the past 46 years have been its people, the Head of State said and saluted Guyanese, especially working people through whose toil and sacrifices the country was built. “As we enter a new exciting phase of our development, I want to assure all of you, workers, entrepreneurs, farmers, intellectuals, all, that you will be in an integral part of national development.”
He urged them to move forward together towards greater economic prosperity, and develop the virtues bequeathed by the ancestors.
“Let us imitate their capacity for hard, diligent and honest work, their wisdom in setting aside something for a rainy day, their strength and forbearance in the face of difficulties, their pride in their possessions and their willingness to sacrifice today so as to create a better tomorrow for their children and grandchildren.”
Economic transformation involves investments in critical infrastructural projects, initiatives and policies capable of leapfrogging Guyana’s development to new heights, and this he said, will assure a better future for the citizens. This includes the search for oil and rare minerals, the development of hydroelectricity, building an all-weather road to Lethem, bridging the Corentyne River with Suriname and constructing a deep water harbour.
Additionally, the stringing of fiber optic cable from Brazil will modernize internet services throughout the country, making them more affordable and accessible to the average consumers, and will also allow government services to be more easily available to all citizens, wherever they may be.
He noted also that the one laptop per family project will ensure that no one will be left out of the process of keying Guyana into the digital world.
Explaining that economic transformation also entails modernising the traditional sectors such as bauxite, rice and sugar, developing agro-processing and eco-tourism, the President said this would cement Guyana’s status as a global leader in the provision of environmental services under the Low Carbon Development Strategy.
Guyana’s transformative agenda then, involves catapulting the economy to a higher stage of development he declared, “By fostering increased industrialisation, reducing our carbon footprint, assuring us cheap, reliable and renewable sources of energy, keying our people into the exciting possibilities of the cyber world, and allowing for the emergence of new poles of economic growth while modernising the traditional sectors.”
The President pledged Government’s commitment towards upgrading village economies by increasing economic activities, providing jobs within villages for residents, promoting inter-village economic exchanges and encouraging the growth of businesses, large and small, including cottage industries. This is aimed at making villages become vibrant hubs of development.
The President said, “Special attention will also be paid to improving the physical well being of communities and to develop the skills and talents of residents. Through our e-learning programme, we eventually hope to develop a national database that would catalogue the various resources and skills available within all communities so as to allow for greater utilisation of these skills.”
Despite the increase in the number of vehicles and especially public transport vehicles, many workers still have to wait, sometimes for hours, to get home.
“We have recognised the problem and we are committed to ensuring that workers can get to and from work without undue delays. This is one of the reasons why we will continue to upgrade the road network system and why we are actively considering the encouragement of new shuttle services capable between large population centers. In this regard we are open to various models of organising and financing this initiative. The aim is to get commuters home safely and on time.”
While it is not the intention of the administration to displace private transportation services, the President said, “if our people are suffering because of the inability of public transport operators to provide a satisfactory and adequate service, then we are duty bound to assist where we can.”
“ I envisage the day is not far off when Guyanese would no longer have to fly overseas to seek medical attention since all of the specialist health care services would be available locally,” the President said. This, he explained, can be done through partnerships which will allow the health sector to source the skills and expertise of foreign and local professionals in hospitals in which the government has a stake.
The land has already identified for the construction of a specialty hospital that would provide more affordable world class surgeries and offer A grade medical services which we still have to source overseas at an astronomical cost.
This is all part of our program to look after the interests of our people,” President Ramotar stated.
“People for us come first and everything we do is intended to redound to the benefit of the people of this country. We are interested in ensuring the best for our people. In order to do so we need to work together to break down suspicions and foster greater understandings and appreciation for the conditions that determine our decisions and actions,” the Head of State said.
He added that while the 2011 National elections have created new challenges to all the leaders of Guyana, it is a time to show maturity and to put the interest of the country and people ahead of narrow self-interests.
Pointing to the need to safeguard Guyana’s freedoms, defend its democracy and allow the ingenuity and resourcefulness of the people to flourish, the Head of State declared that, “A great Guyana will not be measured only in terms of what we build and what we create but also in our character as a nation, including our ability and willingness to set aside all narrow interests for the greater good of all Guyana.”
AS he concluded his address, he said, “Tonight on this 46th anniversary of our country’s independence, when we recall that historic moment in our country’s history, let us all commit to making our beloved country better for our sake and for the sake of those who will come after us,” the President said.
The evening’s observance was punctuated with songs, dances, cultural renditions, hoisting of the Golden Arrowhead and fireworks culminating just after midnight.