A happy Decade of Development
Happy New Year. I greet you at the start of 202o – a most auspicious year in our nation’s history.
The year 2020 is an exciting time to be alive and to be Guyanese. Today – 1st January, a memorable and momentous date – marks the dawn of the ‘Decade of Development: 2020-2029’; the start of the national observance of the 50th anniversary year of the Republic and the launch of campaigns for General and Regional Elections. An eventful year lies ahead.
Guyanese can expect a higher quality of life over the next five years. We are looking beyond 2020. We are laying plans for the future. We are planning for improvements in our lives in the form of:
economic growth which will accelerate as production increases and the major sectors become stronger and more resilient; farmers and fishers benefitting from the modernization and diversification of their sectors; miners enjoying safer mining practices;
education and healthcare which will continue to improve; information communications technology will be extended countrywide to link all regions and communities;
employment opportunities which will be available; citizens having larger disposable incomes and public servants’ emoluments continuing to grow to improve their standard of living;
public infrastructure which will continue to be rehabilitated, upgraded and expanded; and more housing for low-income families;
energy supply will be extended to more rural and hinterland communities; manufacturing enterprises will be catalyzed by more reliable electricity; the generation of electricity from sustainable sources will be expanded.
We maintain that the principal objective of the state will always be to secure the ‘good life’ for all. T
his will entail providing every citizen with opportunities to be the best he or she can be; securing sustained economic prosperity; ensuring access to quality public services and promoting social cohesion.
The ‘good life’ involves eradicating extreme poverty and reducing class, racial and geographic inequalities. The ultimate measure of the good life is happy communities, happy households and happy people.
We will launch a ten-point programme aimed at improving the quality of life by promoting, over the next five years:
educational improvement, assured by enabling every child to have access to nursery, primary and secondary education; providing tuition-free education for eligible students at the University of Guyana and strengthening teachers’ training;
economic growth, characterized by higher levels of investment, enabling incentives for business development, including robust support for agriculture, fisheries, manufacturing and mining;
constitutional reform, pursued vigorously, with wider popular consultation, and with greater emphasis placed on broader political inclusion, protecting human rights and preventing constitutional gridlock;
good governance, by adopting measures aimed at enhancing transparency and integrity in public office, strengthening regional development and empowering women and youth;
social protection, by strengthening social safety nets for pensioners, the homeless, the indigent and disabled – and social cohesion by ensuring greater respect for each other’s religious beliefs, ethnic identities and cultural practices;
human safety, by intensifying action to suppress and reduce crime, protect human life and ensure national security by safeguarding the country’s territorial integrity and sovereignty;
Indigenous peoples’ development, by preserving indigenous cultural identity and according recognition of indigenous peoples’ knowledge in protecting the environment;
energy sector development, through strengthening the institutional, legislative and regulatory framework for the management of the petroleum sector and by fast-tracking the development of renewable energy sources;
environmental protection, by preserving our ecosystems and their biodiversity, implementing conservation, climate adaptation and mitigation measures and combating the adverse effects of climate change; and
infrastructural improvement, by extending aerodromes, bridges, road networks, stellings and ferry services through hinterland development and strengthening coastal sea defences.
We can look forward to living in a country which enjoys high levels of growth and human development and with accountable government and greater equality. Constitutional reform will allow for the easier resolution of political differences.
Citizens can be assured that their communities will be safer and that borders will be more secure. The productive sectors will be more resilient by receiving increased support to drive economic development.
I declared 20th December ‘National Petroleum Day’ signifying that Guyana had become a petroleum-producing state. The increased fiscal space created by the commencement of petroleum production allows the intensification of the rate of implementation of these transformative processes.
Your government will ensure that petroleum revenues will be managed prudently for present and future generations in accordance with our objective of securing the ‘good life’ for all. We shall do this through a Natural Resource Fund which, as it stands, meets 21 of the 24 Santiago Principles with the other three principles to be met once the legislation comes into force.
I am pleased to announce the launch of a Decade of Development: 2020-2029 – a ten-year plan that will accelerate the country’s four transformative processes – the ‘green state’, the ‘digital state’, the ‘petroleum state’ and an education nation:
- the first transformative process involves the transition towards becoming a ‘green state’ that will emphasize the preservation and protection of the environment and the graduation towards greater value-added production;
- the second will be the development of a ‘digital state’ which will connect every region, neighbourhood, village, community and government agency, generate ICT services and make public services more accessible;
- the third will be the emergence of an ‘education nation’, characterised by every child attending primary school, every child graduating from secondary school and the country having a more highly educated workforce; and
- the fourth will be the beginning of petroleum production which will result in faster economic growth, increased employment and economic opportunities and larger fiscal revenues.
We can expect to live in a gentle, green and good country, during the Decade of Development as a result of these changes. The results will be:
a growing economy that is innovative and competitive and which generates jobs for everyone willing to work;
an education system in which every child attends, and graduates, from school; every eligible person is accorded free tertiary education at the University of Guyana; every teacher is trained and paid satisfactorily;
a public health-care system providing the best treatment and care available, including to the aged, the infirm and children;
communities in which there is a roof over every head and parks, playfields and recreational facilities where citizens are free to walk without fear of molestation;
a country with modern infrastructure which would allow someone to drive from Crabwood Creek on the Corentyne to Sand Creek in the Rupununi, and with every household, community, region and business having access to the internet.
We will continue to protect human life by safeguarding the environment. We shall intensify our commitment to:
- - preventing pollution of our waterways, eliminating the importation of single-use plastics which contribute to clogging drainage systems, flooding and squalour, depleting aquatic life and contaminating creeks, rivers, freshwater and marine waters;
- - combating the adverse impact of climate change and rising sea levels caused by global warming, which erodes our natural sea defence structures and protecting the mangrove forests which help to secure our shoreline and river banks from erosion; and
- -strengthening forestry and mining laws to make re-forestation and land reclamations conditional for the approval of mining and logging concessions.
Citizenship of this good country must mean, by 2030, living in a modern state where everyone could enjoy equality before the law, education that is free, employment that is satisfying and an environment that is safe and healthy. The launch of the ‘Decade’ today brings the realization of the ‘good life’ closer.
It is fitting that, as we witness these transformative changes, we will celebrate the 50th anniversary of becoming a Republic on the 23rd February 2020. This is an occasion of national pride, deserving a grand celebration of the actualization of our sovereignty.
The Republic’s jubilee occurs at an auspicious and propitious time. We are about to leap above the barriers which previously constrained us in the pursuit of the ‘good life.’ Guyanese are urged to join in the vibrant celebrations being planned to mark the Republic’s Jubilee.
General and Regional Elections will be held this year. The proclamations – dissolving parliament on 30th December 2019 and designating 2nd March 2020 as Election Day – have been signed, already.
We will have the opportunity to elect representatives to the National Assembly and Regional Democratic Councils. The free exercise of our franchise will determine who we choose to manage the affairs of state over the next five years.
General and Regional Elections provide the opportunity for the election of leaders to govern the country during an era of high-levels of economic growth and human development.
Political parties will be mobilized fully; the population will turn out in large numbers; the Elections Commission will deliver free, fair and credible elections and the security forces will ensure an environment of public order and stability before, during and after the elections.
It is fitting, also, to iterate our intention to strengthen our resolve and augment our resources to protect our national patrimony. We expect that the controversy between the Cooperative Republic of Guyana and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela will be resolved, peaceably, by the International Court of Justice.
This course of action is in accordance with Guyana’s view that a judicial settlement is the best means of achieving a final and definitive settlement of the long-standing controversy by reasserting that the 1899 Arbitral Award is valid and binding upon Guyana and Venezuela.
The year, 2020, will be an unforgettable year. It will demand diligent and dutiful service from all to attain the common good. We should be satisfied that the plans which have been laid out for the next five to ten years will culminate, inevitably, in our homeland becoming a land of happy people, happy families, happy households and happy communities.
I extend best wishes to every Guyanese for a happy and prosperous New Year – one which promises to be the most exciting and exhilarating in our nation's history.