Economic Growth and Human Development
February 5, 2004
THE co-financing of a programme by USAID to promote citizen participation in Guyana is most welcome.
The programme will be a big boost to efforts by the Jagdeo administration and by non-governmental organizations to get grassroots people meaningfully involved in moving their community forward.
This, at a time when critics are contending, once again, that the government is ignoring depressed communities predominantly populated by Afro-Guyanese for non-Black areas.
So far as we've been able to determine, that's far from the truth.
Take Linden. A predominantly Afro-Guyanese mining community and the traditional stronghold of the main opposition PNC/R, Linden - named for President/PNC Leader Linden Forbes Sampson Burnham in 1971 after Burnham had called for a single name for the districts of Mackenzie, Wismar and Christianburg - is finally beginning to rebound from the depressed state it had sunken into after Burnham's nationalization of the town's bauxite operations in 1971.
Linden is currently home to a billion dollar programme - Linden Economic Advancement Program (LEAP), which is being funded by the European Union to the tune of 12.5 million euros. The programme aims to rebuild Linden's rundown economic infrastructures, train young Lindeners into entrepreneurs and eventually transform the depressed mining community into a major economic zone.
The idea of LEAP was conceptualized in 1994 when President Bharrat Jagdeo, then holding the portfolio of Minister of Finance, visited Linden for a first-hand assessment of the hardships faced by residents of the mining community and its environs following the decline of the bauxite industry.
No other single non-Black community in Guyana is benefiting anything like LEAP. Yet LEAP is just one development programme being implemented in Linden.
Over the last 10 years, the PPP/C Government has provided in excess of US$5M annually to the town's bauxite operations.
Region 10, where Linden and LINMINE are located, received $219.7M in 2002 to increase the provision of social services.
Only on Saturday, Prime Minister Samuel Hinds commissioned Wismar Municipal Market, rehabilitated at a cost of $103 million under the IDB/Government-funded Urban Rehabilitation Programme. And just a week earlier, Housing and Water Minister Shaik Baksh distributed titles to residents of Amelia's Ward, where the ministry is expending $268 million on infrastructure - roads, water supply, drainage and irrigation - in a housing scheme in that community.
Besides, work is underway in WISROC, Blueberry Hill and Block 22, under a $200 million EU grant, with the aim of helping low-income Lindeners own their own homes.
In fact, some grassroots members of the ruling PPP/C are grumbling that the government is ignoring areas where its support is guaranteed, for areas populated by opposition diehards.
Of course, economic growth and human development won't come to any community whose leaders choose to belabor the depressive state of that community but do nothing positive to help the people in their community wiggle their way out of the suck-sand of deprivation and want that they spiraled into when Guyana surpassed Haiti as the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere!
Having a resumé that includes condemning whoever is doing something for a depressed people, but not doing anything constructive to help the people on whose behalf he or she claims to be speaking, doesn't impress.
For, as one Holy Book puts it, 'Faith without works is dead.'