Looking ahead Editorial
Stabroek News
January 1, 2002

200l was not a year that will be remembered kindly by many, least of all Guyanese. After our own electoral trauma in March and April which threatened to tear the society apart there was the appalling terrorist attack in New York in September which apart from the shock and disruption did not help our already stagnant economy.

As we face, somewhat apprehensively, a new year the problem of ethnic division remains a major concern. In nearby Trinidad an opportunity to experiment with some form of power sharing seems to have been turned down (Mr Manning must surely accept most of the blame, given his initial churlish response to Mr Panday's offer). Do they now face another election and the possibility of another tie? The homegrown dialogue that has developed between our two leaders continues though the results have not been as promising as some had hoped. Nevertheless, the initiation of this process was clearly a major step in the right direction and it will be given a boost if the proposed reform of parliament can be concluded. That must be one of the priorities for this year's agenda and we believe that the government should accept that in the spirit of the compromises envisaged by the Herdmanston Accord foreign models may not be appropriate. There is, in a sense, a movement towards a new paradigm of government which departs somewhat from the old Westminster winner-take-all system and parliamentary reform should be approached in that light.

On the economic front, with the timber and gold sectors under a cloud the need for major new investment is obvious. In Stabroek Business, the monthly supplement dedicated to business, published with this issue, we stress the need to "think business," to have a more vibrant and pragmatic approach to business opportunities. Dr Kenneth King continues to illustrate the many real openings that exist in his excellent Sunday column on the National Development Strategy if only we can, as a nation, rise to the challenges. There have been a few bright spots like the Mekdeci road building projects and there is a welcome new emphasis on tourism. But a great deal more needs to be done and we do not agree with the government's position of giving very limited or no help to troubled sectors of the economy. There are numerous examples of just such help being given in the most advanced capitalist economy ranging from Chrysler to the major assistance to the airline industry after September ll. In our own neck of the woods, Prime Minister Owen Arthur has shown the way in Barbados.

Despite everything there is much to be thankful for. There are, first of all, the cautionary tales of Afghanistan and Rwanda, extreme examples of societies destroyed by ethnic and tribal divisions. We must all learn from those scenarios where unchecked ethnic strife can ultimately lead. And that must impel us to speak and act as responsibly as we can. And though we have suffered from some problems with our sea defences we have been spared the major disasters suffered by many other countries ranging from earthquakes to hurricanes. This relative freedom from natural disasters is a blessing we tend to underestimate.

Perhaps our new year's wish should be for wisdom and statesmanship for our political leaders and for a new spirit of 'can do' in our administrative and business affairs. We have to craft our own solutions. Our political, intellectual and business classes have to mature enough to take our own country, our own predicament, with complete seriousness and to show the way forward for the long suffering citizens.

A happy new year to all our readers.