Promoting optimism among the people

Guyana Chronicle
November 7, 1999

THE PPP/CIVIC Government seems determined to inspire the consultative process beyond traditional sectors and groups as is evident from the current `fan out' initiative being spearheaded by President Bharrat Jagdeo.

With the entire Cabinet going into varying regions and gaining first-hand information on the problems and challenges to be confronted, as well as progress achieved, the nation as a whole stands to benefit from the better understanding being fostered between Government and the people.

There cannot be too much of such meet-the-people initiatives and consultations in efforts to overcome problems; in dealing with fears, real or imagined, correcting wrongs, checking out reports of discrimination and neglect or whatever the hurdles to social and economic advancement.

There was a period in our political history when there was much talk about the `cooperative spirit' and the `consultative process'. Now, more than ever, as we prepare to face the new challenges in the 21st century, there is the need to promote consultation and cooperation for nation- building.

In this process, civil society should not just wait on Government to exercise the initiative. It has an obligation to promote consultation and cooperation among the many recognised civic organisations with significant constituencies of their own, whether in the fields of business, organised labour, religion, community services or culture and entertainment.

Of course, structured dialogues, regular consultations between Government and the parliamentary opposition, or the Government and representative organisations are most useful.

But why should there not be, for instance, more consultation and accountability by the Executive Council of the Guyana Trades Union Congress with the affiliates of the labour movement, and by extension, regular consultations and accountability by the trade unions with their own membership other than at periods of election of office-bearers or industrial unrest?

It would also be helpful for the major private sector organisations to be much more involved in promoting interaction among their membership, getting a more informed view of situations to better make worthwhile contributions in meetings with the Government on specific issues.

Civil society, we are hearing now with increasing frequency, has a major role to play in helping to find solutions to national problems. This, however, seems to require that civil society must also clean up a distorted image and be perceived to be acting in a non-partisan manner in order to function as an honest broker.

When the much-called-for meeting between the President and the leader of the People's National Congress takes place, the hope is that it will not be just for the cameras or to raise false hopes. Rather, it would signal a new beginning in efforts to find solutions to pressing national problems and further inspire confidence in the future.

President Jagdeo told the media in Trinidad and Tobago during a briefing session that despite the negative reports, he was very optimistic about Guyana's future because he has sensed, from his meetings with the people, that they were "fed up with all the posturings and want to get on with their lives ...."

Perhaps the latest "reach out" to the people in Linden and other areas of Region Ten in the promised countrywide `fan out' initiatives may only reinforce the perception of how very much the Guyanese people, of all walks of life, are simply anxious to get on with their lives.

We all have a responsibility to let that happen. We are all involved!

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Guyana: Land of Six Peoples