I am pleased to greet you on this New Year. This is my first New Year’s address to the nation and I am extremely honoured to extend best wishes for peace, happiness, health and prosperity to all Guyanese.
In keeping with our traditions, the dawn of a new year is for many, a time to spend in the company of loved ones.
Throughout Guyana and in the Diaspora, Guyanese are doing just this and they greet the New Year with expectant hopes for a more rewarding year ahead. To make the most of the coming year however requires that we spend some time reflecting on the year that has just ended and charting our own plans for 2012.
At a personal level, the beginning of the New Year is a time for reflection and for constructing resolutions. Similarly at the national level we must also take collective stock of our accomplishments over the past year and plan diligently for the year ahead.
As we bid goodbye to 2011, we can look back with pride at what has been another very significant year for our country. Guyana’s economy has once again registered positive growth. This is the sixth successive year that we have seen our country’s economy growing. We accomplished this in a very complicated and difficult international climate.
As you are aware our main trading partners in Europe and North America are experiencing serious financial and economic problems. The difficulties have impacted heavily on our region with many countries facing serious economic problems.
In spite of this adverse international environment, Guyana has done well. This is testimony to the resilience of our economy which has been progressively fortified over the past two decades by the prudent economic policies pursued by successive PPP/C administrations. All Guyana should be proud of the health of our economy and the impressive strides our country has made. The sustained economic growth has ensured continued improvements in the social services in our country.
More of our children are enjoying better access to improving educational facilities and are acquiring life skills; quality health care and specialized treatment are expanding; more Guyanese today have access to potable water than ever before.
Our young people continue to benefit from opportunities to prepare them for today’s challenges and tomorrow’s possibilities; our workers’ are benefitting from improved remuneration; and the elderly and vulnerable Guyanese are receiving enhanced support and attention. Notably too, the agriculture, mining, construction and services sectors as well as other emerging sectors are all expanding.
We are witnessing an unprecedented level of resilience by the productive sectors in the midst of a challenging global environment that I have already noted. These are just some of the developments we must be proud of as a nation as 2011 comes to a close.
I am proud to say that our country is now on a solid platform and is primed for a second wave of reforms that would be transformative in nature and which will allow for a more rapid economic take- off and concomitant improvements in the quality of life of all of our countrymen.
However we must be conscious of the difficulties that still lie ahead. In the first place, the situation in Europe and North America is still grave. This would have an impact in the region and on Guyana as well.
Added to the economic difficulties, is the issue of human kind relationship with nature.
Enough scientific evidence exists to show that human activities are the main contributors to the environmental challenges we currently face. The continued emission of green house gases into the atmosphere is having a major impact on our climate. If not halted and reversed can have a catastrophic effect on our world and our very way of life.
The international community has recognized that we have to embrace new approaches and models of development. No longer can we adopt traditional approaches which have led to economic growth but have inflicted great harm to the environment. Guyana has gained international recognition and there is a heightened national awareness and support for our climate change initiatives.
The low carbon development strategy will allow us to continue to maintain our forests without sacrificing social and economic development. In 2012 we will work towards maintaining the momentum of progress we have made in this significant area of climate change and in implementing the LCDS.
In this effort we will continue to embrace a national approach so that all Guyanese can be aware, be involved and also be beneficiaries of the opportunities our climate initiatives and the LCDS will bring.
Fellow Guyanese, in 2012 the government intends to resolutely pursue a developmental agenda aimed at raising our economy to a higher level, and in the process elevating the standard of living of our people. We have always believed that economic growth must be accompanied by social development which ensures that all of our people, without exception, benefit from the progressive improvements in the economy in the form of a better standard of living.
We will work to ensure that development is sustained and that in the process all communities continue to experience the benefits of a buoyant economy through quality social services, improved physical infrastructure, obtaining greater value for money in the delivery of public goods and services, and higher standards of living for every Guyanese. I intend to look at all methods available to ensure value for money resulting from the government investments in development projects and to tackle inefficiencies and waste where they exist.
We will work to root out corruption in our society and to create more opportunities for our people to realize their fullest potential. At the same time, one of the priorities as a nation must always be the building of a safe and cohesive society, based on tolerance, understanding and solidarity and, on the rule of law.
The November 28 national and regional elections were a renewal of our democracy. It had been another step in the consolidation and entrenchment of democratic norms in our national life. At the same time it has created a new political situation in the country.
We can see this as an opportunity to work together to take this country forward in achieving national unity, security and social and economic prosperity. To succeed in this we must resolve to have genuine cooperation on important issues.
To try to make deals or to gang up against one partner when we should be working for consensus, can be counter-productive for it will continue to breed suspicion and mistrust. We should be working together to find common ground in the interest of our people.
The possibilities of this are not remote, since a perusal of our manifestos would show that we have similar ideas on important issues. To therefore seek short term advantages at the expense of long term gains is myopic to say the least. I know that working together will not be without problems. There will be ups and downs, there will be strains but I do not see any viable alternative.
Speaking for the PPP/C let me say that we are ready to work with all the legitimate forces in our society to ensure that we continue to advance our country on the path of economic progress.
We will strive to strengthen the institutions within our society so that the important democratic gains that we have made over the past nineteen years would become irreversible. Our people deserve nothing less.
My fellow Guyanese, the New Year 2012 will be a defining moment in our country’s history. We must avoid the pitfalls and grasp the opportunities to sustain the progress we have made; to build our country stronger and to fulfill the aspirations of our people for a better life.
I extend best wishes for a happy and prosperous New Year to you all.
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