–President Ali urges citizens in Arrival Day message
–says the nation has an ‘enormous’ opportunity now to build a better country
GUYANA’S economy is at a turning point, and in order to cement the country’s future as a progressive nation, there needs to be a united stance, which must not be discouraged by hate-filled and rancorous rhetoric, President Dr. Irfaan Ali has said.
The President, in his message on Arrival Day, 2021, related: “Today we are faced with challenges, but if we work together in unity and love, regardless of ethnicity, lineage, or political affiliation, we are bound to overcome these challenges.
“Let us, therefore, pool our ideas and resources, and work towards eliminating some of the ills, such as suicide, domestic abuse, poverty, ignorance, substance abuse and the COVID-19 pandemic. All of these have the potential to inflict disaffection, discomfort, and distress in our society. Let us also reject hate-filled, rancorous rhetoric aimed at dividing our people.”
Arrival Day 2021, which celebrates the contributions of our African, Indian, Chinese, Portuguese and European ancestors and their descendants to Guyana’s development, presents Guyanese with the ideal opportunity for introspection and to appreciate the nation’s multicultural character, as Guyana progresses.
“Arrival Day is a day of recognition and appreciation of our nation’s multicultural character. Arrival Day challenges us to appreciate our diverse peoples and their cultures, and encourages us to strive for a society in which the contributions of every ethnic group are recognised, respected and rewarded,” President Ali said.
It is for this reason that the President has committed to launching a One Guyana Commission. The commission, he said, will become an instrument for valuing and respecting one another. “As I indicated in my inaugural address to the National Assembly, the commission’s work will be national in scope. It would involve engaging our citizenry about how every Guyanese can honour his or her ancestral heritage while fashioning our blended Guyanese civilisation. I urge you all to be part of this important undertaking,” President Ali posited.
In an appeal to Guyanese, the President said: “Let us all commit to pooling our efforts to build a stronger, united, freer, and more prosperous nation, one in which we can exult in the vitality of our various peoples and their cultures.” Dr. Ali urged persons to remember that every group that came to Guyana did so for improvement, did so to have improved living conditions, and did it so that successive generations will be better off.
To this end, he reasoned: “We have an enormous opportunity today to leave a Guyana that will be incredibly better for the generation that will follow. We can only do this if we understand that collectively, in our collective strength, in our collective wisdom and the pooling together of our energies, it is only then that we can be the best and become one Guyanese people. “All of us face various degrees of adversities, but at the end of it all, our ancestors taught us that with perseverance, patience, kindness, love, unity, and purpose, how much can be achieved.”
The President said that Guyana is blessed with tremendous natural resources, but Guyanese need to harness the inner strength of their ancestors to overcome all that will be thrown at the country. That inner strength, he reasoned, is what is needed to build a unified coalition to improve the lives of each other, and bring freedom to this land. “That inner strength, with our capacity and the opportunities that lie ahead, when blended, indeed can leave for this generation and generations to come enough that we can all say in a unified voice, ‘We are proud to be part of this land,’” President Ali said.
The President, in his first address as Head of State of Guyana, had assured the nation that he will uphold the oath he’d taken, and will work in the best interest of the people of Guyana.
“There is only one future, and that requires a united, strong Guyana. That future requires every Guyanese to play a part in building our country, and ensuring we leave a better Guyana for the next generation,” President Ali had said at the time.
“We are in this together; we are not separated by class, by ethnicity, religion or political persuasion. We are united in the true Guyanese spirit,” he’d added.
The new administration, he’d said in his inaugural speech, will be focused on a development agenda that will reflect the priorities of every Guyanese.
“We are building a country for every Guyanese. There is no need for fear; there is no need for distinction, based on political persuasion, religious belief or ethnicity. This is a government for all of Guyana,” President Ali had assured the nation.
Firstly, as part of his commitment to getting Guyana “back on track”, was the implementation of measures and projects included in the $329.5 billion 2020 Budget.
This budget included a $25,000 cash transfer to every household; a $15,000 cash grant and a $4,000 uniform voucher for schoolchildren; $800 million for the Amerindian Development Fund; $5 billion for the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo); a two-week, tax-free bonus for members of the Joint Services; and $150 million for frontline workers, among many other benefits.
The broad objectives of those measures, which featured in the government’s Emergency 2020 Budget, were to stimulate economic activity; get persons back to work; increase Guyana’s productive capacity; reduce the cost of doing business; improve efficiency; and facilitate growth and development of businesses.
Following up on this, the government, in its $383.1 billion Budget 2021, introduced measures that seek to firstly position Guyana to navigate the pervasive COVID-19 pandemic for as long as it is around.
The aim is to keep the population safe from the pandemic, containing the further spread of the disease, treating those who are infected, providing vaccines as soon as they become available, and reopening the economy progressively, and then fully when it is safe to do so.
While protecting the nation is the primary objective, the budget is also aimed at ensuring that there’s a diversified and resilient productive sector, by facilitating large-scale private investment in both traditional and new and emerging sectors, creating 50,000 jobs in the next five years, and promoting entrepreneurship at the medium and small-business levels. Budget 2021 also initiated investments in catalytic and transformative infrastructure, including energy infrastructure, to ensure adequate supply at a competitive cost, and transport infrastructure to improve international connectivity, and unleashed domestic production and productivity.