Grounding with the grassroots
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DEMONSTRATING level-headed balance and keen insight into what’s necessary to sustain a vibrant, thriving, humming Guyana as the country eyes imminent world-class socio-economic development, government is ramping up every sector of the economy, even as it allows for robust progress of the exciting oil-and-gas sector. Citizens welcome this balanced approach to development, thankful that the thinkers and planners are not skewing the national economy to depend wholly and solely on the rich oil-and-gas sector. This strategy flows out of government’s deliberate plan to cultivate an engaging rapport with every aspect of the society, to continually embrace ordinary citizens, and to keep abreast of every section of the country. Nobody, indeed, must be left behind; that’s the serious mandate of this government. Every Guyanese must benefit from Guyana’s surging drive to 21st century progress.

Across every ministry today, government is pouring resources into the traditional sectors, making sure that Guyanese citizens in every industry tap into the tools they need for continual growth and development, of not being left behind. This focus on developing and augmenting traditional sectors emphasises government’s reasonable, sensible, balanced approach to building the nation’s future. Standing out with encouraging visionary leadership is Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha. This week, the nation learned that rice generated $51 billion in 2020, with production this year earmarked to jump by at least 75,000 tonnes over last year’s. Minister Mustapha has been actively cultivating relationships with farmers and stakeholders in the agricultural sector, often hitting the ground with boots fully engaged, holding conversations with citizens to gauge how the sector is faring.
The admirable approach to the sugar industry under Minister Mustapha’s leadership is a brilliant demonstration of the state’s reaching out to every corner of Guyana with compassion, understanding, and a solutions-oriented mindset. When citizens wake up to such a governance style, they feel good about their country, confident about their future, and they tackle the task of building their nation with energy and morale-boosting motivation.

Indeed, ministers across the board have been actively engaging with communities around the nation from the very first day of taking office. Prime Minister Mark Phillips this week travelled to Charity to talk to residents battling floodwaters in the area, and he has been a fixture around the country meeting and conversing with citizens.
This government does not consist of armchair administrators: the ministers spend a lot of time engaging with people all over the land, on the ground, rain or shine. Attorney-General Anil Nandlall meets residents for conversations and to hear their concerns and suggestions every Saturday at Annandale. President Irfaan Ali is also frequently showing up around the country, talking to Guyanese about what government is doing, and also solving problems citizens bring to him. The issuing of 3,600 house lots in the last half of 2020 is an outstanding symbol of how engaged this government is with the people.

This is a welcome strategy from the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government, because for the five years of the Coalition Government, Guyanese felt alienated, estranged and even abandoned by ministers, with Brigadier Granger reluctant to hold presidential press conferences, and Coalition ministers refusing to engage with communities except at elections time. The PPP/C ministers campaigned at elections time, and took that same spirit of reaching out to the people, into their governance style. Minister Charles Ramson Jnr engages with the sports sector across the country, travelling to Berbice and other places to keep tabs on the pulse of the sports fraternity. All the ministers are engaging, they are reachable, and they humbly perform their jobs with expressed concern for the welfare of citizens. It is a frustrating truism of human nature, and a global phenomenon, that government bureaucrats and high officials often develop an arrogant disregard for the voters who propel them into high office, many treating ordinary people with disdain and impatience – except at elections time.

So it is refreshing and a wonderful blessing to the Guyanese nation to see the Guyana Government deliberately employ a leadership style of humility, of staying in touch with the grassroots, and of emerging from their offices and secure environment to rub shoulders with ordinary citizens.
Indeed, many Guyanese today would have personally met and chatted with every minister of this government, especially enjoying their interactions with President Ali, who is shaping up as a man of the people. When one considers the aggressive push from the private sector to develop malls, hotels, and other spanking, brand new projects, twinned with a government of humble servant-leadership, every Guyanese feels special today. There’s a new spirit in the air, a new vibrancy and “aliveness.” Citizens go about their days knowing that 2021 is the year when Guyana achieves its potential, and that the future unfolds the dazzling Guyana Dream coming into reality.
Like Ramnaresh Sarwan’s sparkling new mall opening soon at Providence next to the Providence stadium, Guyana is on the verge of something exciting and amazing and futuristic. And much of the credit goes to a government that understands how to interact, and how to cultivate an engaging relationship with ordinary citizens, across every sector.

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