Better days beckon — ‘green plan’ to help catalyse growth in 2017 – President Granger

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President David Granger

THE quality of life enjoyed by Guyanese will be significantly improved this year as the country takes critical steps towards the establishment of a ‘green state,’ President David Granger said in his New Year’s message to the nation. “The ‘green state’ will see us doing more to adopt the use of renewable energy,” the President said, while noting that a comprehensive, clean-energy plan is being drafted to guide the country’s transition to sustainable energy generation.
“The ‘plan’ will enable us to receive renewable and reliable energy at a reduced cost for households, industries and hinterland communities. It will remove our dependence on imported fossil fuels; it will result in foreign exchange savings and it will insulate our economy from the impact of rising petroleum prices,” President Granger explained.
Additionally, the green state involves the empowerment of local communities in order to generate employment at the ‘grassroots’ level – particularly for women and youth.
The development of renewable sources of electricity generation – from bio-mass, hydro, solar, and wind-power, the President added, will provide employment for thousands of skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled persons.
“The industries spawned by these sectors will multiply job opportunities,” he posited.
In this regard, the Government will continue to lead by example with more public buildings in line to be powered by solar energy. Additionally, more solar energy systems will be installed in hinterland communities as the Government moves to convert the country to renewable energy.
“The ‘green state’ will promote the protection of our natural environment by the conservation of our fauna and flora. Every region will be required to provide for protected areas, conservation parks, reserves and sanctuaries to protect our wildlife. We will identify an additional two million hectares of our territory for conservation,” he further stated.
Additionally, he said the “green state” will become an engine for economic diversification in 2017 with greater emphasis being placed on eco-tourism and eco-education.
“Our flora and fauna and luxuriant, natural vegetation – the coastal lowlands; the highlands; the grasslands; the wetlands; the sand belt; the lakes, rivers, rapids and magnificent waterfalls and the evergreen, mountain and rain forests – will further catalyse our eco-tourism and eco-education sectors by emphasising our biodiversity.”
DIVERSIFICATION
It was further explained that this process of diversification will support industrial enterprises and simultaneously sustain livelihoods by suppressing the impact of exogenous shocks and by opening new investment and employment opportunities.
“The establishment of a ‘green’ state will reduce the impact of the economic and environmental shocks which have retarded our development. The ‘green’ state will reduce our country’s carbon footprint. The ‘green state will diversify our economic base and promote increased value-added production.
“The ‘green state’ will demand that we strengthen our efforts in science and technology education and quicken the adoption of information and communication technology. ICT will facilitate greater connectivity between the coastland and hinterland; stimulate the services sector; improve the delivery of public services and enhance the competitiveness of our economy,” he further added.
PUBLIC SAFETY
In addition to accelerating the process of achieving the “green state,” President Granger in his message assured the Guyanese people that public safety will be improved.
“We have seen the clearest sign, also, that the unlawful and unreasonable claims to our country’s territory will be set on a definite course for settlement at the end of this new year,” he noted, while adding that the country’s vigilance to protect its people and its patrimony against all threats to its territory will not be diminished.
The United Nations (UN) Secretary-General has decided that Guyana and Venezuela are to return to the Good Offices Process for another year with the hope of the two countries coming closer to a resolution on the ongoing border controversy.
Outgoing Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, has indicated that based on the various assessments done over the years, a return to the Good Offices Process is the best option at this point. Guyana has since indicated its acceptance of the decision of the UN Secretary-General.
Additionally, the Secretary-General has stated that should there be no progress within 2017, then the new Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will choose the International Court of Justice (ICJ) as the next means of settlement.
Reflecting on 2016 as he wished the nation a happy 2017, President Granger said the national pride was evident in Guyana and in the diaspora as the country celebrated its Jubilee year.
“We shall be even prouder as we apply our assets and abilities in this new year to move faster and further along the path of economic growth,” he posited.
He said public trust was enhanced when, for the first time since 1994, communities across the country were re-empowered to elect councillors in local government elections.
“Residents were happy that we established three new towns in the hinterland – at Bartica, Lethem and Mabaruma – to stimulate development away from the coastland. Freely elected councils and local democracy will strengthen communities, which are the bases for richer regions and a prosperous country.”
The historic Local Government Elections were held on March 8, 2016.