The Cinderella county welcomes President Jagdeo and Cabinet
by Tota C. Mangar
December 4, 1999
AS AN Essequibian by birth, and one who has to date spent almost half his life in that county, I feel particularly delighted to express my views on His Excellency, President Bharrat Jagdeo's decision to hold his Cabinet Meeting in Essequibo beginning Friday, 3rd December 1999.
Ever since his ascendancy to office President Jagdeo has demonstrated a positive and radical approach to important burning issues in society. In his inaugural address as President of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana, he pledged and I quote, "It is my ambition to live up to the expectations of my people. I am committing myself to be an emissary of renewed hope and a healing process in our society." Matching words with action he has so far undertaken a number of bold initiatives which have even confounded and baffled friends and foe alike. One such strategy since the assumption of Presidency is to take the Cabinet to the people. President Jagdeo has already done so in Berbice and Linden respectively.
This time around it is Essequibo's turn. Long regarded as the Cinderella county, Essequibo is certainly on the move. It has witnessed steady, if not spectacular progress, within the last few years. With the installation of a Wartsilla plant Region Two now has a fairly reliable and stable supply of electricity. Under the Primary Education Improvement Programme, a number of its once dilapidated school buildings have either been rebuilt or rehabilitated. In addition, a few new schools including nursery ones have been built to meet the increasing demands of the school-age population. There is also improvement in the area of recreational facilities thanks to regional administration, the Ministry of Culture Youth and Sports and the National Sports Development Council. While some expansion has come about in relation to telephone facilities there is still scope for widening the service by the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company. The region is predominantly a rice-growing area and in fact it produces the largest amount of paddy in comparison to other regions. A number of new and privately owned rice mills have emerged within recent times. The private sector is also in the forefront of development. Commercial banks, a multimillion dollars copra mill, a television station, a modern sawmill and Barama's latest investment initiative are all evidence of this new evolving wave.
But there are problems and frustrations which face Essequibians, as indeed other Guyanese. A major setback is the incomplete Supenaam to Charity Highway. Both Paranapanema (Brazilian) and Greek Technodomi have failed to deliver. With a resumption of the project under new hands it is hoped that this roadway would be satisfactorily completed within the shortest possible time. Furthermore, residents are peeved at the controversial Charity wharf issue.
Rice farmers and millers alike are feeling the impact of high cost of production as against low world market price for rice and related markets. Farmers are also subjected to extremely late and inadequate payment systems. In fact quite recently they have even become restless and have expressed their disgust at the level of representation by their association. At this point in time they need assurance to eliminate their fear, economic distress and insecurity.
There is also concern at the high level of unemployment especially among youths. Certainly the creation of an Industrial Site and favourable tax incentives to prospective investors would help to alleviate the situation.
President Jagdeo's tactical move to carry Cabinet to the people must be viewed as a very healthy sign. For one, it is a tangible way of enhancing real democracy. The Essequibo visit comes against the President's pre-occupation to weed out corruption and for Government officials to be more transparent and accountable to the people. At the local level, Essequibians would certainly be afforded the opportunity to engage in free and frank discussion with the President and Ministers of the Government in relation to their concerns.
Cabinet in Essequibo at this time is indeed an historic occasion. History tells us that way back in the 18th century, Essequibo was the seat of Government of the united colony of Essequibo-Demerara. There appears to be light at the end of that enduring tunnel. Essequibo now boasts one of the marvels of Guyana in terms of nature tourism. By this I refer to the newly created Mainstay Lake Tourist Resort.
Essequibo welcomes His Excellency and his Cabinet to this weekend retreat. May the experience be rewarding and re-invigorating for all Essequibians and indeed all Guyana.
A © page from: Guyana: Land of Six Peoples