GUYANA: HAPPY 53RD INDEPENDENCE TO ALL – Message from President David Granger

 — Guyana poised for transformative moment

President David Granger

– young people to benefit from window of opportunity

WITH the production of oil and gas on the horizon, Guyana is poised for another transformative moment, President David Granger said in his Independence Day address, as he placed the country’s future in the hands of young people.

“The commencement of petroleum production next year, and the transition towards becoming a ‘green’ state, will increase economic growth and provide greater resources for development. The future belongs to young people,” President Granger told the nation as it celebrates its 53rd Independence Anniversary. 

U.S. oil giant, ExxonMobil, has made 13 oil discoveries to date offshore Guyana in the Stabroek Block. With well over 5.5 billion oil-equivalent barrels in the Stabroek Block, production is expected to commence in March, 2020. The developments in Guyana’s budding oil-and-gas sector augur well for the country with a population of approximately 750,000 people, observers have said.

The Head of State said the resources derived from economic expansion and diversification will be deployed, primarily to secure and safeguard “our children’s and grandchildren’s future.”

“Young people can be assured of greater opportunities as a result of oil production and the policies of the Guyana Green State Development Strategy,” the President assured the nation.

He said already, young people are playing a pivotal role in driving development, and his government will further position them to assume responsibility for the nation’s future. Noting that the National Youth Policy has been adopted, President Granger said it explains the government’s vision for youth.

That policy is intended to transform Guyana into “A nation in which young people are united, educated, trained, safe, happy, healthy and integrally involved in the decision-making processes, while enjoying equality of opportunity and equal access to the resources of our country and are politically, economically and socially empowered.”
The Head of State pointed out that education, equality, empowerment and employment are the four pillars of the national youth policy.

ATTAINABLE 
“The good life, regardless of the resources available to us, will be unattainable unless young people have access to better education, enjoy greater equality, are provided with expanded employment opportunities and are empowered to make decisions which determine their future,” he said.

Education, the President emphasised, is the bedrock of government’s youth development policy. It was explained that the government’s policy of every child in school aims at ensuring that no one is left behind. His government is also equipping young people with the requisite knowledge and skills to become productive citizens. “Education is being enhanced at all levels –- nursery, primary, secondary and tertiary,” he said, while stating that an ‘education nation’ is being established.

Like education, President Granger said, equality is integral for youth development. “Your government, already, is creating a fairer, friendlier framework for ensuring greater equality by providing improved access to public services – business registration, immigration, legal services, public education, public health, public information, public infrastructure, public security, public telecommunications, electricity and water,” he said. The president said too that young people in the hinterland can look forward one day to having access to the same public services as those on the coastland.

EMPOWERMENT
Though unemployment remains one of the issues with which the country continues to grapple, the head of state said “employment for all is possible,” noting that through the Guyana Youth Corps, young people are improving their ‘marketability.’ The youth corps reflects government’s emphasis on consolidating its youth initiatives, so as have a stronger focus on employment and job creation.

“Your government also is committed to reducing the numbers of young people who are not in education, employment or in training (NEET). The Sustainable Livelihoods and Entrepreneurial Development (SLED); the Hinterland Employment and Youth Service (HEYS); and the Youth Innovation Project of Guyana (YIPoG) initiatives are other examples of how government is helping to promote self-employment for young people,” the President said.

He also underscored the importance of youth empowerment. With Local Government Elections held twice in three years, young people were given the opportunity to participate in local democracy. There were many young candidates who contested and campaigned in local government elections in 2016 and 2018. It is believed that more and more young people are being included in the decision-making process and their voices are being heard. Young professionals and entrepreneurs are being consulted in the fashioning of the country’s national budget, the President pointed out, while adding that their opinions and interests are taken into consideration in the development of government policies.

“The future belongs to young people. This axiom is true today as it was 53 years ago, when Guyana attained its independence. The central aspiration of the independence generation was to secure a better future for their children and grandchildren. Young people, today, can look to a bright future with greater confidence, enthusiasm and hope, knowing that their government is laying a stronger foundation for the good life for them and their children,” President Granger said.

TRANSFORMATION PROCESS 
He noted that the country underwent a transformative process when it gained independence on May 26, 1966. That transformative experience, he said, opened opportunities for everyone but, particularly, for young people.

“Independence was transformative. It brought forward-looking changes which improved the living and working conditions for all, including our youth. It laid the foundation for a better life for future generations,” the head of state said.

It was noted that the immediate post-Independence decade was a period of effective efforts aimed at expanding the country’s infrastructure and improving public services. These nation-building initiatives, President Granger posited, propelled rapid improvements in the country’s economic, physical and social infrastructure.

“Infrastructure – such as aerodromes, the bridge across the Demerara River, highways and wharves – was expanded. Community centres, health clinics, housing schemes and many new schools were established. The economy was set on a path of growth. Public services – water and electricity – were extended to unserved areas,” he pointed out.

Guyana’s economic and financial landscape underwent significant transformation with the establishment of institutions such as the Guyana National Cooperative Bank and the Guyana Agricultural and Industrial Development Bank, which provided much-needed access to capital for households, farmers and manufacturers. The Guyana Marketing Corporation, he further pointed out, assisted farmers to transport their produce to markets.

“Social protection was revamped, including through the establishment of the National Insurance Scheme. Social cohesion was advanced. Recognition was accorded to all of our main religious groups and steps taken to reduce the divisiveness of the period just prior to independence. The introduction of free education from nursery to university emphasised the importance of ensuring a sound education for our young people and of reducing distinctions of class, gender and geography,” he added.

The newly independent state strolled onto the global stage with confidence, President Granger said, while adding that it became respected and recognised for its efforts at advancing the cause of the developing countries, particularly of the small African, Caribbean and Pacific states.

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