Diaspora key to shaping Guyana’s development strategy – President Ali

His Excellency, Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali says the inputs of the diaspora are critical to framing Guyana’s development strategy.

President Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali

The President made this statement during his address at the inaugural Virtual Diaspora Conference.

“You’re not here just to listen to the plans and opportunities that we have here in Guyana. But importantly, we would like feedback on how we can ensure that not only the Diaspora Unit, but the entire strategy is developed in a way that makes it sustainable, workable, ensuring that the planned outputs can be realised. And this is critical for me because we have to get this right,” he said.

Dr. Ali said the Government and the diaspora must be on the same page from the start, guided by the common principle of getting the best outcome for Guyana’s future.  He commended the diaspora for its role in Guyana’s historical development, including in maintaining the country’s democratic values and the rule of law.

“Indeed, during very difficult times, it is remittances and the contribution of the diaspora that serve many Guyanese, breaking the barriers of extreme poverty. It is the remittances of Guyanese in the diaspora, that contributed significantly to the eradication of many social problems.

A section of the participants at the Virtual Diaspora Conference.

It is your commitment over the years, that has helped us during many difficult times, whether it was the great flood, whether it was the cholera outbreak, whether it was in a health crisis. The contribution and significant role of the diaspora always played a hand in helping us,” he said.

Dr. Ali said the diaspora has to be a key element, as Guyana navigates its future of opportunity and prosperity. This, he explained, is because the diaspora is uniquely advantaged in its ability to network and engage globally.

“We expect you to be part of the solution and not part of the problem,” the President said.

In this regard, President Ali asserted that the diaspora can have a negative as well as positive impact on the society. He asserted that it is crucial that Guyanese use their energies to promote co-operation and nation-building.  

“So, whilst we celebrate the positivity, I would like to throw the challenge out there; the unification, the coming together of the Guyanese people is paramount to the prosperity we hope to achieve. It is just understanding that we form one community, the Guyanese community, working with each other to create a better Guyana for each other,” Dr. Ali said.

The Head of State also identified five key pillars for the Government’s engagements with the diaspora namely, integration, identity, information, investment and influence. He explained how each of these pillars are manifested in the skills, abilities and talents of those in the diaspora.

Dr. Ali also noted Guyana’s aid to St. Vincent and the Grenadines in the aftermath of La Soufriere volcano eruption is testimony of the Guyanese diaspora’s capabilities. He particularly lauded the work of the Diaspora Unit of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.

“In its very early stage, we have seen the impact of the Unit in facilitating, coordinating and participating with St. Vincent and the Grenadines in dealing with the aftermath of the volcano. Guyana indeed has a diaspora in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

“And the Diaspora Unit, from a very early stage, and this is the pre-eruption stage, was able to engage and connect with the Guyanese community and the leadership of that country,” he said.

In seeking feedback from participants in the conference, the President outlined the Government’s development strategy, touching on major issues such as social equality, education, health, infrastructure, manufacturing, the investment climate, the environment, jobs, the oil and gas industry, the energy mix, agriculture and food security.

The President said with the nature and size of development coming Guyana’s away, the Government has to be prepared to make informed decisions which are consistent with its development agenda.

He explained that Government intends for its work to benefit the people, not only in the current context of the economy, but rather in a way that would have long-lasting and long-term impact upon the prosperity of Guyanese for generations.

The inaugural conference was themed, ‘A New Era of Engagement for the Guyanese Diaspora’. In explaining the need for such an initiative, the Foreign Affairs Ministry said it is well known that the diaspora is highly skilled and patriotic, with a strong desire to contribute to the nation’s development.

The conference has its genesis in a commitment President Ali made to aggressively pursue the involvement of the diaspora in national development. In this regard, the conference purposed to seek out the talent of the diaspora on a range of topics, including remigration, tourism, trade and investment prospects, youth engagement opportunities and philanthropy.