President called upon to implement National Development Strategy
GPSU feels it can be platform for both main parties
Stabroek News
July 18, 2002

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Participants at a race relations seminar have called on President Bharrat Jagdeo to implement those aspects of the National Development Strategy (NDS) appropriate to the developmental needs of Guyana and to do so with dispatch.

The resolution, copied to the media, was signed by the 29 participants who took part in a three-day seminar themed `Preserving trade union unity in a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural environment'. The seminar, which started on July 9 was organised by the Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU).

The participants, by way of a resolution, called on Jagdeo "to honour his commitment given to the drafters of the National Development Strategy 2001 - 2010 and to take such steps as to recognise, and facilitate by way of public debate and implement those aspects of the National Development Strategy that are adequate to the developmental needs of Guyana and for same to be done with despatch."

A release from the GPSU said that the resolution arose out of a lecture by Vanda Radzik of the Red Thread Women's Development Organisation, on the subject `The modification of racial attitude'.

Urging civic-minded citizens to support the call, the GPSU said it considers the resolution most opportune, more so now that a group of civic-minded citizens are calling for inclusiveness in governance and the participation of citizens.

Because of the current political situation, the GPSU said that what was needed was to get the two main political parties - the PPP/C and the PNC/R - together in the interest of the people and this necessitated a programme with which they are in agreement. The GPSU feels that such a programme could be the NDS.

However, it said that in spite of assurances given to the crafters of the document that relevant recommendations would be implemented it was "gathering dust somewhere in either the Presidential Secretariat or the National Assembly."

One of the co-chairmen of the NDS, Leslie Melville, when contacted on Tuesday expressed surprise that Jagdeo could attend the recent Encounter of Civil Society held at Liliendaal and endorse the importance of civil society when the NDS, a document produced by the very civil society was not being acted on. Melville noted that the Carter Center had promised to assist in the setting up of a NDS Secretariat.

In July 2000, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Resident Representative, Richard Olver had committed the UNDP to making available financial and intellectual resources as well as its network of 136 offices around the world to help in the implementation of the NDS.

The NDS, to which some 100 Guyanese from various professional backgrounds contributed, was presented to Jagdeo in June 2000 after which it was laid in the National Assembly. At the time, he had expressed reservations about taking the document to parliament before general elections, which were held in March 2001. He had said that he did not want "the document caught up in the political process by going now to Parliament."

A few days later he announced at a press conference that the document would be laid in parliament a week later but it was not laid until three months later.

At the time, PNC Leader Desmond Hoyte had said that the NDS, which was dubbed a civil society effort, was conceived in 1994 by Jagdeo who at the time was the finance minister and it had its origins in the Carter Center.

The PPP/C had said that the document was by no means Jagdeo's, since there was input from persons of various political persuasions and professionals of high integrity including former minister in the PNC administration Dr Kenneth King and former MP and city mayor Mavis Benn, both of whom co-chaired the NDC committee.

Then WPA MP Dr Rupert Roopnaraine had welcomed the NDS stating that the sooner it got to parliament, the better.

Since it was laid in parliament, the document should have gone to a Select Committee then sent back to the National Assembly for public debate but nothing has been heard about the NDS since.

In a background to the NDS, Dr King had said that it had its genesis in 1993 with the late president, Dr Cheddi Jagan who approached the Carter Center for assistance. The first draft was not deemed a civil society document and it was never laid in parliament so it was never a national strategy. In 1998, after consulting Jagdeo, then finance minister, the Carter Center approached members of civil society and 181 persons from varying professional backgrounds agreed to take part in the second and final draft. Dr King had said that no one could deny that the second draft was a product of civil society as it was not only drafted by Guyanese civil society but it was formulated only after consultations with civil society. (Miranda La Rose)