Guyanese are enjoying better days – President – at 47th independence anniversary
Georgetown, GINA, May 25, 2013
Forty seven years after Guyana severed ties with its former colonial ruler British Guiana to become a sovereign nation, 20 of which were governed by the People’s Progressive Party (PPP), President Donald Ramotar has assured that its citizens are enjoying ‘better days’.
Speaking on the eve of Guyana’s independence, to thousands in the National Park President Donald Ramotar Guyana’s seventh executive President alluded to the success stories in housing, education and health as the indicators.
President Donald Ramotar inspecting the Guard of Honour during Guyana’s 47th Independence Anniversary
The President said the Government’s ambitious housing programme has significantly relieved the pressures that the shortage of housing had created within families and communities, and has upped Guyana’s reputation as the only country in the CARICOM that has embarked on such an ambitious housing programme, focused on housing the poor and low income families.
He explained that in the last five years, 50% of all persons who own a house lot under these schemes are single mothers and women-headed households.
“This is a major achievement for our women who can begin to break the cycle of poverty and take a more equal position in the society,” President Ramotar said.
With water closely associated with housing, President Ramotar reported that over 90% of Guyanese citizens now have access to clean and reliable water, eliminating the burden of walking for miles to fetch water.
President Donald Ramotar looking on as the golden arrowhead was being hoisted at midnight
Over the last eight years Guyanese students have distinguished themselves at the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) and the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE). In seven of those eight years Guyanese students have topped the Caribbean, President Ramotar said.
The Government has credited those achievements to the investments in the education sector, with the construction of new schools, the achievement of universal access to primary education, gender parity and the goal towards universal access to secondary education.
“There are more and better schools for children to attend, and these investments have yielded dividends,” President Ramotar said.
The construction of a specialty hospital at Liliendaal is by far the latest in major investments in the country’s health sector that when complete will see Guyana offering services that are only available overseas. At the moment this project has been stymied as a result of the opposition cutting its allocation in the 2013 budget.
In addition, services offered at state institutions have expanded while partnerships are being established with others to improve the delivery of a wider range of services to Guyanese. President Ramotar said, “For the average man and woman, the quality of life is indisputably much better today than it ever was.”
Fireworks over the Golden Arrowhead during Guyana’s 47th Independence Anniversary
A new bridge across the Demerara River is at present being conceptualised while the design phase for the widening of the thoroughfare between Better Hope and Belfield on the East Coast of Demerara is ongoing.
“This will ensure a smoother flow of traffic and avoid citizens having to spend long hours getting to and from home,” President Ramotar said.
On the East Bank of Demerara, where traffic congestion has become intolerable, there are steps are being taken to widen the existing roadway and construct a major bypass that will link the East Coast to Diamond with connecting feeder roads at various points such as Eccles and Mocha.
President Ramotar said major rehabilitation works are needed on the access road linking communities on the East Bank of the Berbice River and there are intentions to build a sturdy and durable surface which is needed to withstand the growing volume of heavy- duty traffic in that area.
He announced that the possibility of reopening the Del Conte trail via a road link between Parika and communities close to Bartica is being examined. When constructed, the road will open up thousands of acres of new lands for agricultural cultivation, increase food production, secure greater economic opportunities for farmers and provide a much needed road link to areas accessible by river.
Guyana is rapidly advancing towards new hubs of growth like the tourism sector which President Ramotar said holds huge possibilities for everyone, and remains one of the growing segments of the global economy.
Recognising that significant investments are needed for the sector to develop, the Government has invested in the expansion and modernisation of the Cheddi Jagan International Airport and world class accommodation services like the Marriot Hotel.
Investment in the stringing of a fibre optic cable from Brazil is aimed at revolutionising the Information Communication Technology (ICT) sector to put Guyana on par with the world of Science and Technology.
President Ramotar said developments in these fields are impacting communications and transportation in a substantial way and Guyana cannot afford to be left behind.
“We are therefore taking steps to keep abreast with these developments. We are preparing our children at school and at home to deal with the new technologies of the world. Our One Laptop per Family Programme is ensuring that no one would be left behind in this the information and technological age,” President Ramotar said.
The ICT sector has over the past10 years created about 3,000 jobs with the potential to grow even further and open access to education and other services to people in the most remote areas.
As the only English speaking country in South America,Guyana has taken advantage of possibilities to forge ties with neighbouring countries and to promote mutual trade and economic development.
Suriname and Guyana have approached multilateral institutions to undertake a feasibility study for the construction of a bridge cross the Corentyne River. President Ramotar said such a bridge will not only increase people-to-people contact and make travel easier, but will also stimulate greater economic activities between the two countries.
Relations with Brazil have led to deals on infrastructural integration, with a deep water port and a fully paved Linden-Lethem road that would allow for Guyanese products to be traded into additional and much larger markets,
“I am pleased to report that senior-level teams from both countries are working diligently to accelerate the realization of these projects,” President Ramotar said.
Relations with Venezuela have been much improved with trade relations expanding owing to the visionary leadership of the late President Hugo Chavez who President Ramotar described as a true citizen of Latin America and the Caribbean.
Extending a hand of partnership
The Head of State, still optimistic of an atmosphere of political trust that is aimed towards nation building, said he is again extending the hand of partnership to the political opposition.
“I am ready to engage with all stakeholders in pursuit of these goals. Tonight, I once again commit the government to working towards a brighter future for our motherland, one in which we can all live in peace, freedom, harmony and unity, and one in which our children can enjoy the promise of a fulfilling future,” President Ramotar said.
President Ramotar said he is not oblivious to the concerns of ordinary citizens, especially those that confront citizens in the towns and the Neigbourhood Democratic Councils (NDCs), the roads in need of repairs and drainage woes.
He said he is aware that the poor state of sanitation in many communities such as garbage disposal remains a bugbear in almost all the areas on the coast and is fast emerging as a growing concern in many interior communities.
As it relates to worker satisfaction, President Ramotar alluded to the new national minimum wage which will further protect vulnerable workers from abuse and naked exploitation.
“If there is any fulltime employee who is earning less than the specified national minimum wage, I ask you to contact our Ministry of Labour. We will investigate your case. I had also promised to address concerns relating to domestic workers. This minimum wage has gone a far way in doing so, since domestic workers are entitled to this minimum as well. We have now set their working time at 40 hours per week. They will now be legally entitled to holiday with pay and all the other benefits that flow from the labour acts.”
The President said from July 1, about 31,000 workers inclusive of those in the security sector, and domestics and shop assistants will have a high wage.