Engaging the citizenry
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THERE is no greater comfort than a listening ear, especially in the context of governance, where leaders devise solutions to sociological and economic issues after engaging the citizenry and understanding their plight.

As simple as it may seem, consulting the people of a nation forms an integral part of good and efficient governance. The importance of this exercise is extended even further, when leaders go beyond just listening to concerns, to including citizens in the decision-making process.

Citizen participation in national development has been a key component of the model of governance adopted by the incumbent People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C). And this is evidenced by the myriad outreaches to various communities across the country within the past two years.

Government officials, from the President, Dr. Irfaan Ali, to agency heads have been ditching their offices for tents in various communities, where they take public services to the people and listen keenly to every legitimate concern raised by persons from all walks of life.

Both President Ali and Vice-President, Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo, have been leading those community engagements and, when and where possible, have been offering on-the-spot solutions to problems that might have been affecting residents for years.

The engagements and subsequent measures have benefitted residents of many communities, including those that are known strongholds of the opposition, A Partnership For National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC), which, on the contrary, had taken a high-handed approach to governance during its tenure in office.

It was only after the coalition administration was toppled by a no-confidence motion in 2018 that its officials attempted to engage citizens through outreaches that evidently bore no fruit.
Unlike the coalition administration, an analysis of the PPP/C Government’s two years in office would show that it has upheld the tenets of good governance.

While there is no internationally agreed definition of good governance, the United Nations in an overview of this theory, has said that it may span full respect of human rights, the rule of law, effective participation, multi-actor partnerships, political pluralism, transparent and accountable processes and institutions, an efficient and effective public sector, legitimacy, access to knowledge, information and education, political empowerment of people, equity, sustainability, and attitudes and values that foster responsibility, solidarity and tolerance.

Any individual who objectively analyses the PPP/C government’s budgets, policies, projects and even outreaches would not only by able to recognise the presence of good governance, but would also be in a position to effectively dismiss US Congressman, Hakeem Jeffries’ recent comment: “… not everyone in Guyana is treated consistent with the principles of equal protection under the law.”

Outside of the unfettered access to free primary healthcare and free education from nursery to secondary school, authorities have invested billions of dollars into initiatives ranging from COVID-19 relief and the education grants, to the removal and reduction of taxes that benefit everyone regardless of their political persuasion, race, ethnicity or distinct feature.

And considering the government’s direct engagement with persons from every region across Guyana, there is little room for the exemption of anyone from the country’s development.

President Ali was quoted recently in sections of the media as saying: “The leaders of this government, we’re not hiding in a room and having a meeting with 10 people. We are going to the communities in the open, inviting everyone. Those meetings are then televised, streamed live on Facebook. We’re not hiding comments from anyone.

“Any issue they have can be brought up in this big tent approach, where every single person is involved. Decisions are made on the ground, with consultation with the people. Their ideas, views are all brought in the open on one table, not behind some closed door. That is not how we operate.”

The President said too: “We understand how good governance is important for the developmental trajectory of our country, how it is important for investors’ confidence in our country, and I cannot allow the misgivings of those who consider themselves the virtues of good governance to continue.”

Vice-President Jagdeo has also affirmed that the government is working to significantly improve the standard of living of all Guyanese by making available more opportunities to residents throughout Guyana by investing in long-term projects in education, healthcare and public infrastructure.

He even assured Guyanese that they would benefit from the burgeoning oil and gas sector, saying: “We are intent on ensuring that the industry that we worked so hard under the PPP to bring to that point that that industry benefits Guyanese and the returns are shared equitably across our country that all of our people, regardless of who they voted for, their race, their religion, they must share in [the] oil- and-gas proceeds. That is important for us.”

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