Development cannot take place without risk

Stabroek News
August 19, 2001

Dear Editor,

I refer to your editorial [ please note: link provided by LOSP web site ] of Sunday August 12, 2001 captioned "Fuzzy planning" on the international plan to link Guyana's coast to northern Brazil. I appreciate your efforts to raise public awareness on one of the most important economic developmental events to be undertaken in Guyana's history.

I hope you will allow me the opportunity to respond. My comments in response to yours should be taken as presenting a different perspective in the greater public interest.

S.N: "What needs to be done to protect this country, its environment and its people from some of the possible consequences of becoming an appendage of the neighbouring territory of Roraima".

It is frightening, isn't it? Especially as in fact, Guyana will be a gateway to the North, not an appendage. Of course, the road will bring with it all the good and the bad, from not just the State of Roraima, but from all of South America. Finally, Guyana will become a part of the South American continent and will be able to derive all the economic benefits that entails.

S.N: "The Government still does not have an interior policy, still cannot monitor its borders, still has not settled Amerindian land issues and still has not produced any development plan for the Rupununi".

I could not agree with you more - I would argue, though, that these areas will now be finally addressed as a consequence of the Guyana/Brazil Road and not as a pre-condition for its development.

With reference to Brazilian Miners at Kurupung, all you say is true except that 100% of diamond production revenue does not go back to Brazil. Because of the high cost of mining, at least 60% of the revenue generated stays in Guyana and is providing employment and business opportunities for Guyanese.

Corrupt officials unfortunately are a universal problem. Perhaps, Government will now be forced to look at re-structuring the GGMC, something the Miners Association has been fighting for for a number of years.

S.N: "The biggest problem for this country will come however, when the deep water harbour, about which Brazil is so enthusiastic, is built".

S.N: "Heavy container traffic will go thundering along the Coastal - Lethem road, frightening off the wild life in the Iwokrama Forest Reserve".

As a Guyanese concerned about the economic prospects of Guyana's future, the heavy container traffic is something that I hope will happen. As far as the frightening off of wildlife in Iwokrama, this is an area Iwokrama should address. I know of a road proposal to by-pass Iwokrama by building a diversion road from Surama to Mahdia, submitted to Government by a well-known local firm. This could be pursued by Iwokrama and Government.

S.N: "What about risks, therefore, to Guyana's unpoliced interior".

Government will obviously be forced to re-look at their monitoring capability, as a consequence of this proposed road development taking place. The role of the Guyana Defence Force in this regard should be reviewed. As it is, their focus seems to be increasingly on non-military activities. For example, the GDF Air Corps' primary focus is on commercial activities in taxpayer subsidized competition with the private sector. A reorientation of the military can only be good for our country going forward.

My final comment on your editorial is that development cannot take place without risk and yes, it is important that these risks be weighed. But we will never go anywhere if every single new development is sidelined because of our fears. We cannot put our house in order before every development. We do not have the time or resources necessary for such a luxury. So we must do this while we develop. That is a risk we will all have to consider and may be a risk well worth taking.

Yours faithfully,
Michael O. Correia, Jnr