–President Ali assures new CARICOM Secretary-General
THE benefits to be derived from a burgeoning oil-and-gas sector and rejuvenated productive sectors will not be absorbed selfishly by Guyana, but rather shared with its counterparts in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), President Dr. Irfaan Ali has assured the new Secretary-General of the regional bloc, Dr. Carla Barnett.
President Ali told the new CARICOM Secretary-General that Guyana, as a member of CARICOM, will look to enhance the regional community.
“We are very pleased to have you at this critical time for the community, and even for us here in Guyana,” he said, adding: “I have made it very clear, that our prosperity will be shared with the region, and that the region will benefit from a stronger Guyana,” he told Dr. Barnett on Tuesday when she paid him a courtesy call at his office.
The Head of State said that Guyana is particularly keen on developing a regional approach to food security.
To this end, he said that the Ministry of Agriculture will support the work of the community in pushing this agenda.
The President also used the opportunity to update Dr. Barnett on Guyana’s development agenda along a low-carbon development pathway.
“We are pursuing an expanded agenda, and our intention is to continue on the Low- Carbon Development Strategy, but an expanded strategy, especially taking into consideration the ‘blue economy’, and balancing oil and gas with our focus on the environment. So that is a very important part of what we are seeking to achieve,” President Ali said.
With regards to regional developments, the Head of State said that Guyana is concerned about the situation in Haiti, in the wake of the untold suffering wrought upon the island by Saturday’s devastating 7.2- magnitude earthquake.
He said that while his government is spearheading a national relief effort, officials are also working with CARICOM for a regional approach to assistance.
The two leaders also discussed upcoming events, and regional participation and representation at international events, including at the 26th United Nations (UN) Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland, from October 31 to November 12, 2021.
“I think that we should find some way in which all of us; all the Heads, can include these items in our presentation, so that the noise gets louder. So, we welcome you; we know that you are very capable and strong, and you have all that it takes to lead the region in the right direction,” President Ali said.
The President also pointed to the visit by the President of the Republic of Suriname, Chandrikapersad Santokhi, and said that over the next few days, the two countries will be discussing their joint approach to the energy sector. The President also invited Dr. Barnett to collaborate in finalising the design of the Secretary-General’s official residence, set to be constructed at Sparendaam, on the lower East Coast Demerara. “I am very pleased that we had the opportunity to meet so early; it’s important, and we look forward to working with you on all the regional initiatives,” President Ali said.
In response, Dr. Barnett, who took office on Monday, thanked President Ali for his warm welcome, and acknowledged that there is indeed a lot on the agenda, particularly where events unfolding in Haiti are concerned, including the upcoming elections. She also spoke about the region’s preparations for COP26.
Dr. Barnett also pointed to the strides that have been made by Guyana in addressing its sustainable development agenda.
“An interesting thing that you mentioned just now actually came up in our discussion with the Secretariat yesterday; the need to balance in our energy development the carbon-based, and environment, because there needs to be a balance, and there can be a balance in which both things can evolve. I am really very interested in learning about what your approach will be. Guyana really has led the way in terms of its approach to sustainability of the natural environment,” the CARICOM Secretary-General said. She also expressed gratitude to Guyana for its efforts in assisting Haiti, and related that the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) and the Civil Defence Authority are organising the disaster response in that country.
She further said that the Haitian authorities are pushing for a more coordinated relief effort.
“The secretariat is geared up to do what we need to do,” the CARICOM Secretary-General assured President Ali.