National Unity and Modernity: Priorities For Guyana’s New Coalition Government

Commentary Part II: by Rickford Burke

National Unity and modernity: Priorities For Guyana’s New Coalition Government

Rickford Burke, CGID President

Rickford Burke, CGID President

Change has come to Guyana. The nation has put the dark era of the PPP domination behind. Diligent exercise of the franchise has secured the election of President David Granger and his A Partnership For National Unity & Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) unity government.  The new dispensation signifies that the power of the “vote” remains invincible. A coalition inspired rebirth of national pride is imminent. Trepidation and instability have given way to great hope and expectations of an APNU+AFC government economic renaissance; social transformation; arrest of decay in our political society and assiduous pursuit of national unity.

The growing passion for national unity is palpable and pervasive. Guyanese want to move forward in unison to develop our homeland. The people have embarked on a new chapter of national life in which no race or ethnicity will be left behind.

Now is the time to unshackle ourselves from the predilection of ethnic and racial classifications that have strangulated our nation’s progress for generations, and fully embrace our single, inalienable uniqueness – the “Guyanese” identity. Race, class or ethnicity will never define who we are, but our nationality will!

Yes, our ancestors were sailed to the shores of our land from different continents, peoples and tribes but, inevitably, we share a universal identity – that of humanity. Hence, our aspirations and destinies are no different. They are inextricably woven into one unique tapestry that binds our national destiny. It is this sense of commonality that inspired the National Motto: “One People, One Nation, One Destiny.” We must heed this clarion call from the framers of our nation.

The aspiration expressed in our Motto cannot be achieved in a morass of political instability, injustice, divisiveness and exclusion. Such must be condemned to history. Every Guyanese is a stakeholder in our nation’s affairs and must be represented in decision-making. For this reason the coalition government must strengthen our democracy; enforce enshrined rights and freedoms and demonstrably govern as a fair and just government of all.

The pathway to a modern State is mapped through reconciliation and unity. Guyana will only progress when its people embrace a single strategy for modernity as a united nation. The fact that every facet of Guyanese society is represented in the new unity government makes rapprochement and development feasible.

The Granger coalition has adumbrated a bold vision for economic growth and development. However, realization requires meticulous analysis of our national interests; strategic, nimble thinking and the enactment of people centered, progressive policies.  Hearts and minds can only be captured by the implementation of coherent, functional policies that are germane to the nation’s needs and exponentially enhance the economic and social circumstance of the people.

Like every other Guyanese, I have a dream to see my country emerge as a modern state. Our potential is unfathomable and our resources are abundant. Guyana is too rich in natural and human resources to be so poor. I am frustrated that in 2015, my country remains where it was twenty-five years ago – an underdeveloped country.

Now is the time to formulate and implement a long-term, holistic development plan for Guyana. This blueprint must be enshrined in law. Singapore, Malaysia and Brazil are former third-world countries that have blazed the trail of modernization. We must study and emulate their development models.

Once and for all, we must burst our country wide open and develop the vast, untapped, mineral-rich interior regions. We have waited far too long. Over sixty percent of the land and natural resources in Essequibo is either underutilized or undeveloped. No country striving for development, and to overcome poverty, can sustain such degeneracy.  The average Guyanese has been deprived of a decent way of life for far too long.

Guyana now strives to become an oil producing nation. We must, therefore, commence prudent planning to manage the wealth generated by our natural resources to bring about economic and human development and social transformation.

Infrastructure development, affordable housing, free high-quality education and world class healthcare must be national proprieties. Now is the time to invest in state-of-the art medical centers; complemented by an efficient medical transportation system to reverse the endemic avoidable deaths.

A robust social service project to ameliorate economic hardships and provide a safety net for vulnerable populations must be established. New and diverse job opportunities must be created for our youth, and they must be trained and equipped with the skill-sets required for twenty-first century jobs.

We must expand the agricultural sector; modernize the sugar, rice and other industries; utilizing new technologies to lower production costs and improve efficiency and output. These measures will create international competitiveness, boost exports and increase revenue.

However, human development and social transformation alone cannot accomplish development goals. Infrastructural and industrial modernization is an essential component. Our infrastructure is dilapidated, outdated beyond service life, woefully inadequate and incompatible with human advancement and development capacity.

Our technology is so obsolete that it stymies growth and development. Guyana’s technological divide with the rest of the world must be bridged immediately to promote and sustain economic advancement and industrialization. Progress will require a liberalization of the communications sector; high-speed internet services; fourth generation mobile telecommunication technologies; hi-tech medical care, environmental management, electric grids, water supply, etc. Let us give Guyana a technological upgrade!

Now is the time to build a modern network of international highways and conduits throughout the country; linking Georgetown and coastal communities to Surinam, Springslands, Lethem, Bartica, Brazil, Venezuela, Mabaruma, Pataro, Mahdia, Linden, Anna Regina and other places. We must interconnect Guyana with a nexus of modern bridges and tunnels across our rivers, creeks and tributaries to facilitate efficient commerce and trade.

Surrounding localities must be appropriately zoned for industrial, agricultural and commercial enterprises, which would ignite economic activity.  Business will create thousands of new jobs; build new infrastructure like roads and bridges, drainage and water supply systems and generate electricity plants.  Infrastructural development will permit new land acquisitions and construction of homes and commercial centers. This cycle of economic activity will enable new communities to emerge and grow throughout Guyana.

Deep water harbors and modern ports must punctuate our capital and coastal waterways to attract commercial ocean liners and cruise ships. Guyana is situated to be the transportation hub that links South and Central America with the Caribbean and North America. We must take up this challenge and construct world-class, international airports at Ogle and the flatlands that join Demerara and Essequibo counties, and redevelop regional airports at Bartica, Lethem, Mahdia and other interior locations to boost eco-tourism and commerce.

My vision for my country is one of rapid development into a modern state with a booming economy and a standard of living for the average citizen that rivals any in the region. Our former President, Hugh Desmond Hoyte, articulated this vision best in his address to his party’s Congress in August 2002. “For far too long our people have been bereft of happiness. The culmination of our efforts must be to return the smile to their faces, the spring to their steps and the joy to their hearts. Ours must be the task to fashion a vibrant and wholesome society, at peace with itself and at peace with its neighbors. We must fashion an economy that creates wealth, spurs development and provides continually expanding conditions for all of our people to live comfortable fulfilling lives. Then we must fashion a state resting squarely on foundations of democracy and social justice where, within ever enlarging bounds of human freedom, the rule of law reigns unchallenged.”

I believe that this is the aspiration of every Guyanese. It must become the mission of our new government. They have the right vision and skills to realize this dream and propel Guyana to modernity.

President David Granger and the APNU+AFC coalition government deserves our full support. I will do all that I can to ensure it is successful. Indeed, all Guyanese must take up this challenge. Our survival and advancement as a people depend on it.

We have a nation to build; generations of young minds to mold and educate; a citizenry to protect and a destiny to charter.  This is our moment! Let us seize the opportunity and accomplish the task. We must bequeath to forthcoming generations a modern country of which we can all be proud!







    WHO PROTECTING JAGNARINE SINGH-the Managing Director of the Guyana Rice Development Board.

    There are about 30 agencies and outfits of the Government that have been identified as places where the new government is aiming to carry out FORENSIC investigations. But funny enough – rice is not on the “front burner” of this new Minister, despite an earlier exposure by key rice farmer advocates. Dr. Turhane Doerga and JInnah Rahman.

    Is the new Minister of Agriculture, Noel Holder, who has admitted that he has no knowledge or experience in the rice industry or agriculture – in general. One does not understand why he is dealing with thieves and crooks – who have raided the Petro-Caribe Fund – “Oil for Rice deal” ? What is his “game plan” and why this narrow political opportunism – which will hurt the nation severely – when the situation worsen,.

    Apparently, no one is seriously concerned with what will happen with rice farmers, who are potentially faced with bankruptcy. Where is the money that was received for the sale of fuel through the Venezuelan “Petro-Caribe fund” used up illegally by the PPP dictatorship to bribe rice farmers to vote for them at the last election, which the PPP lost by a narrow margin.

    Jagnarine Singh, the General Manager of the Guyana Rice Development Board, (GRDB) and one of the Conspirators that was actively involved in the reported theft of the Fund, told Rice Millers on Tuesday that they are owed around 2 billion dollars – at a time when more rice is being shipped to Venezuela, as there are no other markets.

    The Guyana Rice Producers Action Committee, (RPA Action Committee), a vibrant Voice in the Guyana Rice Producers Association, a PPP front organisation, alerted the nation of the impending crisis at its 26th February, 2015 Press Conference at Georgetown Club.

    The Action Committee openly challenged the lies pedalled by the PPP henchmen during the Election campaign. The Rice Producers Association Action Committee’s leading members, Turhane Dierga and Jinnah Rahman, were “on the ball” – convincing rice farmers not to vote for another 5 years of the PPP Stalinist dictatorship, bringing into full focus the infamous Jagdeo, who claimed that ONLY $15 million (US) was used for the hopeless Hope Canal Project and the balance is in the Central Bank (1$US = 200 $Guy)..
    A reliable source at Central Bank subsequently confirmed that all the money was spent.

    One should know that when the $2 (Guy) Billion is found by this government to pay the Rice millers the problem is not solved, but rather it is a drop on a hot plate as the Banks will take their 17-23% interest and instalments from the millers leaving only part of this to pay the farmers

    This is compounded by the fact that there is more than 250.000 tons of paddy in the system, which is unpaid to the farmers and leaving all to wonder, what will happen now ? Jagnarine Singh further admitted that there are no new rice contracts.

    Rice farmers who are the largest private sector group -125.000 people, seem to be the ones AGAIN holding the empty bag, whilst Mr. Jagnarain Singh is rated by the new Govt. Minister, Noel Holder, as the “best since slice bread” .



  • The Brigadier’s voice was heard loud and clear all the way from Bridgetown to Caracas, prompting President Madero to call off his visit to the Caricom Heads of Government Conference now on at the Hilton Hotel, Barbados.
    We will wait to see what stance Caricom will take in this matter. Will Caricom stand fully behind Guyana, or will it become fragmented, with Petrotrin on one side , PetroCaribe on the other, and Play-it-safe in the middle .
    With the new Chairman in place, it going to be a long long time before we find out.


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