People now more involved in governance
Guyana Chronicle
October 8, 2003

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Apart from improvements in the material conditions of living following the October 5, 1992 historic elections the restoration of democracy has resulted in the establishment of wider freedoms and greater involvement of people in the running of affairs of the state.

This remark was made by Presidential Adviser on Science, Technology and Sustainable Development, Navin Chandarpal, while declaring open a photographic exhibition at the National Library yesterday hosted by the Government Information Agency (GINA) to mark the 11th anniversary of the People's Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) in government.

Chandarpal stressed that October 5, 1992 was first and foremost the result of a long and persistent effort to have the "voice of the electorate heard." But he noted that the struggle was a very difficult one in which lives were lost, recalling that Jagan Ramessar and Bholanauth Parmand were among the casualties.

The Presidential Adviser observed that some people do not like any reference to the prevailing situation prior to 1992, but he contended that in order to measure change and development it is essential to compare what existed to what is the existing situation now.

He recalled that the pre-1992 period was characterized by a suppression of civil liberties and press freedom, and control of the judicial system designed to gag dissent, and those who were opposed to the then government were dubbed "enemies of the state." However, with the advent of the PPP/C government a determined effort was made to broaden democracy and a major achievement in this respect was the restoration of press freedom and the independence of the judicial system, Chandarpal said, adding that there is so much press freedom that sometimes it is abused causing chaos and confusion. But he observed that there must be a "price for expanding democracy and change."

Chandarpal said the restoration of democracy created the environment for greater involvement and participation in governance, and recalled one such step was the holding of local government elections in 1994 after an absence of over 20 years.

In this regard he observed that in constitutional reform and enactment of certain legislation there were wide consultations with people, among those he noted was the Environmental Protection Act in 1996, and revised legislation pertaining to land use policies, forestry and mining, as well as during the formulation of the National Development Strategy (NDS) and the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP).

As regards the composition of state boards Chandarpal said under the PPP/C administration they are now reflective of various interests where all stakeholders have a say.