– President Jagdeo
Head of State Bharrat Jagdeo, in his independence address to the nation, said that one of his main concerns in the country is the preservation and advancement of the welfare gains already attained through a commitment to human development.
He pledged that the government would continue to make investments aimed at enhancing the quality of life of the people, especially the vulnerable.
“In this regard, we will continue to improve access of our citizens to housing, potable water, electricity, education and health care.”
He said that the housing drive has already made an unenviable contribution towards improving the quality of life of Guyanese and there will be additional initiatives forthcoming in the country’s housing policy.
“These new initiatives, calculated to provide our people with the means to overcome the financial hurdles in erecting homes, would see within the next three years the expansion of the hinterland housing drive; the provision of $6B to create new infrastructure and other improvements in existing housing areas, and the establishment of a $2 B revolving fund to assist those who have acquired house lots but who lack access to financing.”
In addition to the housing sector, the president alluded to a commitment of fostering pride and dignity amongst Guyanese. He said that this administration would not tolerate the abuse of Guyana’s women and children.
In the face of such abuses, the government was building a legislative shield to increase protection of women and children.
“Legislation, including the Child Care Protection Agency Bill, the Protection of Children Bill, the Status of Children Bill and the Adoption of Children Bill, has been enacted… Work is also proceeding on the Child Care Services and Development Bill and the Custody, Guardianship and Maintenance of Children Bill.”
He added that in response to the alarming level of domestic violence and the horrific murders, there has been intensified support to victims by increasing funding for the Ministry of Human Services and Social Security, Legal Aid and Help and Shelter. The government has also caused to be instituted, a more sensitive and proactive approach by the Guyana Police Force in responding to the victims.
According to the President the constitutional rights commission to protect the welfare of women and children has already secured parliamentary adoption and would soon be operational and thus provide another plank of support for women and children.
He also disclosed that a Family Court is to be established which would consolidate the handling of all family-related legal matters under its jurisdiction.
“This action will contribute to ease the frustrations experienced by families in the encounters with the judicial system… In addition, our outmoded laws concerning Juvenile Offenders are being amended since it is recognised that juvenile offenders need to be handled differently from adult criminals…Furthermore, a new Bill on Sexual Offences, to remove archaic laws, is under review.”
He noted that in order to effectively arm the law enforcers to protect citizens, court rules dealing with evidence and procedures have been revolutionized and is coupled with the institution of harsher penalties, including identifying non-bailable offences such as piracy.
“We have also enacted laws to provide for mandatory supervision for convicted felons of certain crimes including pedophilia…Due to the carnage on the road, we have introduced legislation to penalise driving under the influence of alcohol and provide for the use of radar guns to control speeding, two of the most common causes of fatalities from traffic accidents.”
The President said that Guyana as a country has achieved quite a lot since its independence in 1966 but much more progress can be made if there is a supportive political environment.
The President pointed out that Guyanese desire for a better life imposes on all the obligation to pursue greater national unity and cooperation
“We therefore must seek to implement a framework for improved cooperation between our political parties, particularly the major parties the PPP and the PNCR and to foster engagements that go beyond Parliamentary exchanges and that are more reflective of the enormity of the challenges facing Guyana.”
He posited that while a common ground on every issue may not always be forthcoming and while differences will persist, the need for joint action in response to the challenges must surmount all differences.
“As we reflect on our successes and challenges of the past, it is important to remind ourselves of the struggles and toils of our fore parents in the fight for Independence and Democracy…They have brought us this far; it is for this generation and the generations to come to continue the journey that would lead to a safe, united and prosperous Guyana, one in which every citizen would be able to hold his or her head proudly and affirm his citizenship to this great land that we call our home.”
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