President woos Diaspora

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President David Granger addressing members of the Diaspora in New York on Friday

‘We need your investments to develop industries’

PRESIDENT David Granger implored the Diaspora to invest in Guyana’s development when he delivered the feature address during a Meet and Greet Reception in New York on Friday.
To the room filled with distinguished Guyanese men and women at the Princeton Club of New York, President Granger said the country needs to tap into the intellectual capital of the Diaspora.

“We welcome your investments. Guyana has the resources and the doors are opened to business, to investments,” the President told the Diaspora in New York, noting that such investments were needed to transition the country from producing raw materials into the realm of well-manufactured products.

“We can do it. Other countries have done it. Other countries use our gold, other countries use our timber, other countries use our bauxite, other countries use our fish. So we need your investment, to help to develop these industries, so that we can become an important manufacturing country and not simply an exporter of raw materials,” he added.

Members of the Diaspora

While acknowledging that the “six sisters” in Guyana – rice, sugar, bauxite, timber, gold and diamonds – have and continue to play critical roles in the development of the country, President Granger said there was a clear and urgent need to diversify the economy, but said the Government and those residing in Guyana, cannot do it alone.
“We have to ensure that our children have a future other than being cane-cutters, our children have a future other than felling timber. We have to go into manufacturing, we have to go into the industries,” he emphasised.

But while Guyana is well on its way to becoming an oil-producing state, and is taking key steps to diversify its economy, the President made it clear that such developments will not be done at the risk of the environment.
“We are not going to destroy our biodiversity, we are going to ensure that new industries fit into our landscape and fit into our plan for economic development of our country.”
The petroleum profits, he told the diaspora, will be used to develop the country and its human resource.

That aside, the President in turning his attention to the Guyana/Venezuela border controversy, reminded the diaspora that the meeting scheduled for Monday (tomorrow) September 25 with Guyana and the United Nations (UN) Secretary- General António Guterres was a critical one.
“We will go to see him to plea on your behalf to use his authority to bring this controversy to a successful conclusion.”

Venezuela is claiming that the international Arbitral Tribunal, which provided ‘a full, perfect and final settlement in 1899, is null and avoid. The tribunal’s award had given more than 90 percent of an area to then British Guiana which was claimed by Venezuela. Venezuela denounced that arbitral award in 1962.

Former Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and his successor, Mr. Guterres, in keeping with the tenets of the 1966 Geneva Agreement, had agreed that if by the end of December 2017 significant progress has not been made towards arriving at a full agreement for the settlement of the controversy, the International Court of Justice would be the next means of peaceful settlement, unless Guyana and Venezuela jointly request otherwise. President Granger is anticipating an update on the progress made, if any, at the level of the Good Offices Process when he meets with the UN Secretar-General.

On Friday, he said Guyana had suffered for too long at the hands of Venezuela.
“We have been denied investment. Businessmen have been chased out. Foreign warships have come into our waters and expelled — it is no secret — expelled peaceful exploration vessels. We cannot go forward in the future if other countries deny our people the right to exploit their God-given resources,” he stated.

“As the country embarks on a new industry – the petroleum industry – the UN ought to be minded of its duty to protect small states like Guyana,”the President said.
“We want the United Nations to recognise that in this community, in this hemisphere, it has a duty to protect small states like ours,” he emphasised.

Guyana’s First Lady Sandra Granger had accompanied the President to the well-attended reception which was hosted by the Permanent Representative of Guyana to the United Nations (UN), Ambassador Michael Rudolph Ten-Pow and the Honourable Consul-General of Guyana in New York, Barbara Atherly.

Vice-President and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carl Greenidge; Minister Dawn Hastings-Williams; Senator for the 19th District of New York, Roxanne Persaud; and Director-General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Audrey Waddel,l were among the officials present.

The consul- general, in brief remarks, applauded the Guyana delegation led by the President for putting Guyana first. “We want to say thanks to the delegation for so aptly representing our country, keeping at the forefront of the debate the Guyana/Venezuela controversy…”

President Granger and his high-level team are currently in New York for the 72nd Regular Session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA 72).