–President Ali says, urges Guyanese to ‘dream big’ as opportunities increase
GUYANA, with its growing petroleum industry and other lucrative productive sectors, is on the cusp of economic transformation, with opportunities for growth and development of all Guyanese, President Dr. Irfaan Ali said as he addressed the nation on the eve of Guyana’s 55th Independence Anniversary.
“We fought for independence to give our people the quality of life of which they had been deprived. If independence is to have any real meaning, it is to uplift our people from the ravages of limitations of the past, and to give them a better life with better opportunities under better circumstances,” the Head of State said in a passionate address on Tuesday evening.
Every person in the local society, according to the President, now has real economic opportunities to grow and develop, and to contribute to the enlargement of national wealth.
“We cannot be a nation that produces oil and gas, earning considerable sums from it without passing on the benefits to all sectors of our society,” President Ali reasoned, noting that the cost of electricity, for instance, must be reduced for both business and household consumption.
The government is carefully considering mechanisms by which the cost of energy can be reduced across society, by utilising an appropriate percentage of the national earnings from oil and gas to do so. These mechanisms will be presented to the nation, through the appropriate bodies, for endorsement. At the bottom line, domestic consumers must be given relief, and businesses should be rendered more competitive. “Our financial resources must be utilised to improve the quality of life for all our communities,” President Ali posited.
In his view, Guyana must become a knowledge-based society, capable of competing with the best in the world, and, evidently, other sectors have been affected in the past by the high price of energy. “Our private sector partners have rightly pointed to the adverse effects of this high price to the cost of doing business, and to their capacity to market their goods abroad competitively, earning revenues in foreign exchange for the benefit of the country. Your government will respond to this situation,” the Head of State affirmed.
To improve the conditions for advancement, the government has initiated plans to enhance the infrastructure throughout the country. The objective of those plans is to build connectivity to all parts of Guyana, by roads, bridges, telecommunications, air and river transportation.
“Every part of our vast country should be accessible to all Guyanese, so that we can all enjoy the marvels of its attractions in waterfalls, lakes, forests, and its flora and fauna,” President Ali reasoned. In further outlining the government’s vision, he said: “We also need to build new communities further inland from our coastal belt to spread our population, reduce prices for land and housing, and ease traffic congestion. “In other words, we must use the land space with which we have been blessed as Guyanese to create new and improved living conditions; new areas of growth and development, and new population centres.”
That is why, part of the plan also includes the establishment of a new city. The government, the Head of State said, will incentivise the private sector and persons wishing to own their own homes to relocate to the new city, where the government will also provide major facilities.
“This is an exciting time, with exciting prospects. I urge each of you to dream big; your government will support those dreams, and help make them reality. That is a cause to which I am personally and deeply committed,” President Ali related. The government’s intention, as outlined by the President, is to strike a balance between an economically-strong Guyana and a powerful Guyanese nation. “We want not only an economically-strong Guyana, we also want a powerful Guyanese nation in which there is no distinction of race, no determination, by colour and no differentiation by creed,” the President reasoned. To this end, he said: “Let there be no doubt about it; just as we were divided and ruled in our colonial past, there are those who would divide us for their own purpose in the future. That must not happen; we must never allow that to happen.”
In pursuit of independence, the foreparents of those who coexist today, acted together to end colonialism; to fashion an independent and original future, and to shape a new destiny.
“No one race of our people achieved that victory; people of all races did it, collectively, as Guyanese born in this land and of this land, each the equal of the other, and each devoted to the common purpose of the making of Guyana a homeland in which all Guyanese could thrive and prosper. Now, it falls to us to keep faith with them, and all the great Guyanese of the past,” President Ali posited.
SPIRIT OF COMMON PURPOSE
To do this, he believes that Guyana has to recall the spirit of common purpose that motivated the foreparents.
And in recalling the spirit, with pride and respect, the President said: “We must commit to continue the journey they began, realising our hopes and aspirations for the future of our much-loved Guyana.” As one people, he said Guyana attained independence, and must now continue to work collectively to preserve the nation’s territorial integrity by advancing the validity of the 122-year-old award that fixed Guyana’s boundaries with Venezuela.
“The Venezuelans must understand that we sought no quarrel with them, and we do not do so now. Our only wish is to live in harmony and cooperation with all our neighbours. We hold out not a fist of war, but a hand of friendship, based on respect for our borders and theirs. But we will not be cowered, nor will we be bullied,” President Ali affirmed.
Similar to the collective effort in protecting the nation’s territorial integrity, the nation must also work together in combatting the invisible enemy that is COVID-19.
The President said that while the government has instituted measures to protect every person in Guyana, Guyanese need to do their part by adhering to the COVID-19 guidelines, and taking their vaccines.
“We have already purchased thousands of vaccines, and we are sparing no expense in ensuring that we have enough vaccines to cover our full population, 18 years and above. Our objective is to ensure that we can inoculate everyone from this dreadful virus,” President Ali related.
The length of this battle, he said, depends on how soon each Guyanese is able to get fully vaccinated.
“What we are putting in place in medical care, we are also doing in education. Guyana and Guyanese must be assured of educational facilities that will allow everyone to attain the highest standard of achievement,” President Ali said.
In further extending his message to Guyanese, the President said: “On this 55th anniversary of our independence, as economic prosperity surely lies before us, let us ensure that national cohesion strengthens us even more.
“I urge that we pledge ourselves to each other, and to the cause of our collective economic and social development.”