President pledges to focus on what unites Guyanese

Stabroek News
August 24, 1999

President Bharrat Jagdeo has said that through extensive consultation with the people he hopes to forge national unity in order to spur Guyana's development. To this end the President issued a call to the people to help his administration to chart a way forward for the country.

Speaking to rice farmers and millers on Saturday at the Anna Regina Community High School, President Jagdeo said his government has embarked upon a policy of consultation with the people prior to the implementation of programmes. This will continue throughout his tenure in office, the President emphasised.

He pointed out that the Guyanese people tend to focus on issues which divide them but his government intends to change this trend.

He said one step in the right direction would be the fostering of racial harmony in the country. "We are not different as a people. All the races share similar dreams and aspirations," he stated.

He noted, however, that, "although we share similar dreams, we are far apart as a people. In my term of office we will focus on what unites us," he said.

He asked that the people understand the constraints under which Guyana must work to improve conditions in the country.

Jagdeo said he is saddened by the opportunities lost by the country over the years and vowed to do everything in his power to uplift the standard of living of the Guyanese people.

Guyana is entering the next millennium a poorer nation than it was 33 years ago before independence, the President stated.

Acknowledging that the years could never be recovered, President Jagdeo said his administration will strive to better the education standard and concentrate on poverty reduction.

He noted that it is no easy task for the policy makers in government who have to face pressures both locally and internationally.

He pointed out that the international environment is different today than it was ten years ago. With the advent of free trade and globalisation small countries would find the conditions too hostile for them to compete, he said.

The smaller countries will find themselves being dragged along by the wave but their voices will be too small to make an impact, he stated.

The President noted that Guyana presently enjoys preferential markets for its rice, sugar and rum but will encounter new obstacles in the post-Lome period.

He said Guyana is lobbying to keep the preferential market but the indications show that the results would not be in its favour.

He noted, too, that the introduction of the North American Free Trade Area has almost wiped out Guyana's garment industry because it is cheaper to operate out of Mexico where no taxes are imposed on the industry.

Continuing to describe the conditions under which the policy framework is charted, the president said the biggest domestic constraint facing the government is the political environment.

"Unless we resolve this issue, the country cannot progress. We should all be reaching out," he noted. He said he was sure opposition parties share similar dreams for the country's development and urged that a new political climate be developed.

"Unless we bridge our differences 30 more years could be lost. I am calling on you to help me. We must free our minds of prejudice," President Jagdeo said.

A © page from:
Guyana: Land of Six Peoples