Guyana needs aggressive development motivation, political inclusion
-UNDP official

Stabroek News
November 6, 1999

In a world where no country can be a passive recipient of aid nor count on limitless aid, Guyana is being urged to build on its strengths and to become a strong development actor in its own right.

This exhortation was made by Elena Martinez, assistant administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in an address at the Foreign Service Institute, Ramphal House on Thursday.

Martinez also stressed the great importance of economic growth even though the UNDP puts emphasis on people-centred development.

To enable Guyana to play the proactive role, Martinez proposed for consideration the need for Guyana to strengthen its capacity to access foreign assistance and to utilise it with the maximum efficiency; to maximise its growth potential; and to create the necessary conditions to facilitate the growth of the private sector.

Martinez pointed out that the experience of the past few years has demonstrated that, given a favourable international environment, such as stable prices for exports, and a stable political and social situation, Guyana has high growth potential. This potential must now be maximized.

Guyana's successes in international trade negotiations, she said, were a first building block.

"Your achievement of substantial debt reduction, under the leadership of President [Bharrat] Jagdeo is also extremely important." However, Martinez stressed that she would argue that the most crucial element was the achievement of social and political inclusion and stability.

"Investors in today's globalized economy are faced [literally] with infinite choices. To attract foreign investment and technology, is to tap a resource that is far greater than any possible increase in foreign aid. Yet investors must be induced to choose Guyana." To such investors, she observed, a stable and secure political environment in which all groups had a mutual stake and full participation and opportunity was crucial.

She also emphasised the need for a vibrant civil society pointing out its importance for increasing political participation and social mobilisation, and ensuring that the connective tissues of social life were built for social welfare, environmental protection and participatory development at the grass roots. "A vibrant civil society will also ensure the strongest possible preparation for all Guyanese to participate successfully in economic growth and enterprise."

The UNDP official posited that to garner foreign direct investment and to diversify the country's economic base, "a vibrant domestic private sector is essential to attract foreign investment, as is the development of local managerial and administrative capabilities.

"A strong private sector is also the best guarantee of continuing national sovereignty in our globalising world. For this to take place, the private sector needs an enabling environment of laws and regulations that make it easy to work and invest in Guyana."

She underscored that the sector "needs sympathetic support" as well as "a web of international agreements that facilitate the exports and allow it to develop its potential to the fullest."

And in addition to an enabling environment, a proper legal framework and accountability, the private sector had to act as a private sector, she said, and it had to accept that it would have to take risks. "This is not an easy task, in view of historical protection to nascent industries in the south."

Martinez said that the UNDP would be happy to organise the necessary support if the Guyana government was desirous of its assistance in building this partnership with the private sector.

Reasserting the UNDP's strong commitment to Guyana, Martinez said she believed that the UNDP "can play an important catalytic role, modest by definition, to help you take advantage of the opportunities that are opening up."

A © page from:
Guyana: Land of Six Peoples