Democracy, development engines of social progress By Mark Ramotar
Guyana Chronicle
March 17, 2004

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DEMOCRACY and development are the twin engines of social progress, Prime Minister Sam Hinds said while alluding to the fact that a country cannot achieve long-term growth if its citizens are not free to participate in the democratic process.

The Prime Minister also told those gathered at a reception hosted by the Commonwealth Youth Programme (CYP) Monday night at Le Meridien Pegasus that economic growth is more likely to be achieved in a stable political environment that recognizes the importance of the individual and empowers all citizens to achieve their full potential.

In reflecting on the aims and achievements of the Commonwealth, the Guyanese Prime Minister said he was pleased to note that the 55-year-old association continues to play a pivotal role in redressing the imbalance, which exists between the 'haves' and the 'have-nots' of the world.

"All members of the Commonwealth can be justly proud of the efforts made by the organization to champion the rights of humanity," Prime Minister Hinds asserted.

Prime Minister Hinds also gave the assurance that Guyana is committed to the realization of these democratic freedoms and will therefore remain steadfast in its efforts to create an inclusive culture in which all of its citizens will have an opportunity to develop their full human potential.

In this regard, he acknowledged the role, which the Commonwealth played in the person of Sir Paul Reeves in the consolidation of our democratic process.
He noted, too, that the continuation of the dialogue with the Leader of the Main Opposition Party, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and all of civil society, has been promising and, if pursued assiduously by all involved, can lead to a genuine social compact for the development of our nation.

He also noted that apart from the area of democratic strengthening, Guyana has been greatly assisted by the Commonwealth's Programme of Cooperation which has provided support for our management of the HIPC process; institutional development for drainage and irrigation; the development of the mining sector; urban development; the maintenance of Guyana's territorial integrity and over 4.7 million pounds worth of technical assistance over the last five years.

Patron of this year's Commonwealth Day, Mrs. Dee Hiscock (who is the wife of British High Commissioner, Mr. Stephen Hiscock) in brief remarks at the reception, indicated that the importance of the Commonwealth, though not always apparent at first sight, is extremely relevant to the development of its member nations.

"As independent, sovereign states, Commonwealth countries are a part of a network which gives them access to collective representation in international fora (and) they have access to technical expertise and advise for the advancement and development of their people and nations," she asserted.

Alluding to this year's Commonwealth Day theme 'Building a Commonwealth of Freedom', Mrs. Hiscock urged that no effort be spared in promoting and preserving freedom at all levels for real development and advancement to take place.

Among those who attended the reception, which was in celebration of Commonwealth Day, were Foreign Affairs Minister, Dr. Rudy Insanally; British High Commissioner, Mr. Stephen Hiscock; US Ambassador, Mr. Roland Bullen; other members of the diplomatic corps and special invitees.