Under Cheddi Jagan, the government designed, with the assistance of the Carter Center and a range of Guyanese stakeholders, a National Development Strategy.
This was in recognition of the fact that if Guyana was to consolidate its democracy, it needed a development platform around which donor resources and private investment could have been mobilized.
The attempts at developing a strategy were successful and produced one of the best development plans ever produced anywhere in the world. Unfortunately, the PNC refused to accept this plan and eventually a compromise was brokered whereby the plan was subject to a review by a former PNC parliamentarian, now deceased.
The revised draft did not significantly alter the substantive policies enunciated in the original draft strategy. What it did was establish unattainable levels of growth. This discredited the review but the strategy itself remained intact and should have been used to direct the policies of the PPP after Cheddi Jagan passed away.
That did not happen because the international donors were not interested in a development strategy that would conflict with the prescriptions of the Washington Consensus. As such, they prevailed on the ten ruling administration which effectively dumped the strategy.
That strategy however was developed by local stakeholders and still has relevance. What is needed is for these policies to be updated and others resurrected.
If the PPP is interested in having stability during the remaining four years of its term, it should use this strategy as a working document to initiate a process of dialogue with both the political parties and those who were part of the process of developing the strategy in the first place.
It will take a great deal of work because after so many years, the landscape in most of sectors would have changed. For example, the emphasis today is less on value- added production.
The global demand for raw materials is driving economic growth and therefore there will have to be shift within the strategy to accommodate the present developments which is seeing Guyana benefiting.
Guyana is also gaining substantially from the low carbon development strategy and this is another area that needs to be examined to see how it can be incorporated into a national development plan.
While the opposition is concerned about staving off a Budget crisis, the issue goes beyond one year plans. What Guyana needs to do is to have more long term plan, one with a twenty, thirty and fifty year outlook.
The fastest growing economies in the world do not plan for one year. Surely they have their annual Budgets, but the plans for each year are based on long term development objectives and what Guyana needs is such an outlook that would then feed into its annual Budget.
It is time for Guyana to begin to think strategically, at least when it comes to the economy. While broad macroeconomic plans are in place, the real problems as we have seen in sugar originate not at the macro level but at the level of the various sectors and it is the absence of policies at the sector level that is most affecting the ordinary citizens.
An updating of the National Development Strategy would allow for these sector policies to be developed and thus ensure that the right mix of policies are produced that would enable strategic thinking from the macro level to the micro level.
President Ramotar himself an economist must be all too aware of the problems that are facing the country and the idea of updating the National Development Strategy would also be a good way of him to show that he is willing to develop a long term vision of the country.
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