2004 - A Promising Year
January 3, 2004
THE year 2003 is now behind us. The New Year of 2004 is here with us, which from all indications is full of promise and hope.
Not that last year was by any means uneventful. Perhaps the most important event internationally was the invasion of Iraq led by the United States in collaboration with Great Britain and other allied forces. While the key objectives of the war were largely met, namely the removal of Saddam Hussein from power and the eventual capture of Saddam Hussein, the war appeared to be far from over. In fact, more U.S. and other troops have been killed since the war was officially declared over than during the war itself, which speaks to the complexity of the situation and the intractable nature of finding a resolution.
Also making the news were the continuing killings in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict which appeared to be heading for nowhere despite the U.S.-sponsored road map which initially offered some glimmer of hope but seems to be running out of steam.
Here in Guyana, the constructive engagement process between President Bharrat Jagdeo and Opposition Leader Robert Corbin, in spite of the trading of accusations and counter accusations, seemed to be showing some dividends, with agreements reached on the setting up of the several Sector Committees and the Rights and Constitutional Commissions, including the Public Service Commission.
The Parliamentary Management Committee is now up and running.
As President Jagdeo reminded us in his New Year's message to the nation, we have made substantial progress in so many areas, especially in the areas of education, health, housing and water. We have opened up new opportunities in agriculture, fisheries, gold and diamond mining, forestry and in the non-traditional sectors.
Substantial gains were also realized in sound macro-economic management of the economy. In 2003, the economy continued to grow; inflation remained at single digits; the foreign exchange rate was relatively stable and the country's foreign debt and debt servicing burden have been reduced.
In the area of international relations, we have deepened relations with our neighbours - Venezuela, Suriname and Brazil. Our relations with Brazil was given fresh impetus with the visit to that country of President Jagdeo resulting in several bilateral agreements aimed at enhancing trade, investment and other cultural exchanges.
Without a doubt, we have had a good year.
Let us continue to build on our achievements in order to make 2004 an even better year.