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While there is nothing really nostalgic about the expired year, it does bring to mind determination that has been seen in other historic period. We recall the famous exhortation of Sir Winston Churchill, when faced with Britain’s greatest challenge from the German enemy. We will fight them in the fields; we will fight them in the factories, etc… That has been the common Guyanese experience of fighting on all fronts - to defeat the hordes of criminals and terrorists while simultaneously pushing ahead with economic development and social programmes.
Fighting on all fronts has produced remarkable, though modest, results. Remarkable because, while many countries face irreversible setbacks, Guyana had recorded a positive growth and has met all socio-economic targets.
There would have been far greater gain had the nation not been faced with the devastating onslaughts from criminal elements. Resources had to be diverted to beef up security and public safety logistics and hardware.
It is an expectation that with enhanced capabilities Guyana can better deal with criminals, and ensure greater protection of all citizens.
But crime was not the only challenge. The state had come under the severest pressures that tested the strength of our fledgling democratic institutions. These institutions like the Presidency, Parliament and our Courts wilted under the strain, but were not broken. The efficiency of the state remains intact.
So we are counting down a year that we would not easily forget, but are resolved not to relive. At the same time we will begin an imaginary construct of the year ahead. We can see in our mind’s eyes a government that is firm and just; an opposition that is strong but responsible; a society that is supportive of the main goals of making Guyana a better place.
Our people must hope that 2003 will be stable and less stressful for all citizens, who only have one desire - to be proud and happy Guyanese.
In ringing the old year out, let us all ring in peace, togetherness and tolerance as a basis for what must be a productive rewarding time ahead.