For any programme to be successful there must be pre-planning. The architects must design a plan, ensure the basics are in place, and then monitor the programme to ensure its successful completion. Sometimes there are hiccups for a variety of reasons, not least among them the procurement of material and adverse weather conditions.
Guyana should not really complain about adverse weather conditions because it is given that there will either be rain or sun. Any programme planner should therefore be in a position to make the necessary plans. Indeed people who cultivate rice and sugar would find especially the rainy weather against them because of the nature of their reaping. But even this could be adjusted.
As part of the country’s development programme the decision-makers have been undertaking large scale infrastructural works. Indeed some of these should have been in place decades ago but one would suppose that the absence of money since most went outside to develop the Mother Country prevented their attainment.
For example, it was only recently that the Berbice River was bridged, something that should have been done a very long time ago. Had that been the case, the country’s easternmost county would have been far more developed than it is. The distribution of agricultural products would have been more widespread and on the whole, the country’s agricultural development would have been far more advanced.
Berbice is the nation’s most advanced agricultural region and this must have been because of its small population and its large land mass. These coupled with the lower rate of Government’s sponsored jobs forced the people to turn to what has become their most likely source of livelihood. However, their output was limited because they simply could not access with ease the larger markets in Guyana.
The result was that there was waste. Successive governments never established the kinds of infrastructure to capitalize on the volume of products that could have been coming out of the county. It is true that there were attempts at canning but the absence of adequate electricity limited the operations of the cannery. Guyana was therefore in no position to capitalize on the regional markets, supplying value added products instead of the primary products that it does.
However, for all that, we suspect that there is a game of catch up. The government is constructing state of the art facilities in that part of the world. There have been the new Skeldon sugar factory and the ophthalmology hospital at Port Mourant. Guyanese are now focusing on Berbice for some of their medical needs. There is also a branch of the University of Guyana.
Yet one cannot help but conclude that something is wrong with the development thrust in other parts of the country. Demerara is the most populous county given that it hosts the seat of government with all its attendant offices and supporting infrastructure.
The government is busy constructing adequate roads to accommodate the growing traffic. One also knows that communities follow good roads and this is exemplified by the large number of housing schemes springing up outside the capital.
Sadly, though, there is not enough private involvement in the development programme. The few private schools and businesses are not enough. The commercial banks are overflowing with money because people are not investing enough in other areas of national development.
The observer may wish to point to the private hospitals but they cannot point to educational institutions to train people to further develop what is there. Construction companies would readily say that they enjoy no shortage of labourers and other unskilled people. They cannot get enough semi-skilled people unless they produce them on their own.
Guyana is ripe for more technical schools and it would be unfair for the nation to expect the government to provide these as it pursues national development. It already has four technical institutes and the GuySuCo Training Centre that it inherited from the sugar company. That centre was a classic example of an entity seeking to produce its own skilled and semi-skilled people.
The government is also sponsoring a training college for teachers, an agricultural training centre and an agricultural research institute. But one gets the feeling that there are just not enough people to accept what these institutions have to offer.
It is here that the private institutions should invest if only to produce people to pursue studies at these institutions of higher learning. There is a lot of room for people who want see Guyana move from its level of underdevelopment. But is there the will to get involved?
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