It is a matter of urgency to deal with the economic crisis
Stabroek News
November 3, 2001

Dear Editor,

The heart of the nation beats with less conviction each passing day. This is so because we have lost and continue to lose much of the skills and talents our country has produced and countless more now wish to leave, if only given the opportunity to do so.

The bare statistics showing that there has been negative growth in the economy do not reveal how alarming the situation really is. We can no longer rely on the three main pillars of the economy (rice, bauxite and sugar). Fore closure and the placing in receivership of a number of businesses are proceeding at an alarming pace; moreover, there appears to be no rational comprehensive plan in place or proposed to support the business sector, or to aid it in agreed directions of restructuring and there is very little new investment taking place. Now, coupled with a recession in the US economy, even harder times can be predicted.

The lack of an affordable and predictable and regular supply of electricity, poor drainage and irrigation, insufficient numbers of roads that are poorly designed, shabbily built and inadequately maintained, backward telecommunication services, inadequate financial services wrapped in archaic and oftimes punitive policies, generally low technology and numerous other factors, do not permit Guyana to emerge as a competitive producer.

There are increasing high levels of unemployment, low wages, a high cost of living, an ongoing and relentless devaluation of the Guyana dollar and inadequate health services.

Guyana's territorial integrity remains under threat in the east and in the west, and our weakness and disunity have led to a loss of soverignty in our relations with international financial agencies and with the superpowers.

Over forty years of unrelenting political struggle for control of the state by the two main political parties has made Guyana unstable, unsafe and vulnerable.

Our organisation, Guyana is First, accepts the following basic premises in light of our national situation:

That it is a matter of urgency to deal with the grave economic crisis facing Guyana, the loss of sovereignty and the excessive migration out of Guyana and that no single political party can summon the will and resources required to deal with these crises.

That political stability and a feeling of hope that springs from a sense of security are preconditions for economic development but the continuing struggle between the two major parties and their ethnic constituencies has fostered an environment of tension, ethnic insecurity, division and recurring violence.

That there is substantial ethnic and geographical diversity which has to be accommodated by a greater sharing of power among all ethnic groups, sections and regions of the country.

Guyana is First is therefore prepared to support the following steps:

The implementation of measures designed to achieve a broad concensus for a new constitution which entrenches the principle of power sharing.

The beginning of a campaign for the establishment of a national coalition government representative of all ethnic groups, regions and economic interests, and the promotion of a broad-based coalition of individuals and organisations in support of the basic premises stated herein and the measures proposed to bring about change.

Yours faithfully,

Dr Frank N. Beckles
Guyana is First