The Ministry of the Presidency (MotP) firmly rejects and condemns as iniquitous and misleading, the contents of a letter written by Mr. Christopher Ram, headlined “What are the real curses” and published in the Stabroek News on Sunday, October 1, 2017.
The contents of that letter were then carried in an article by the Stabroek News in its Monday, October 2, 2017 edition with the headline, “Ram pillories President over ‘six sisters’ remark, diaspora ‘brains.’ An article from the Ministry of the Presidency said that President David Granger’s remarks at the Diaspora Meet and Greet on September 23, which was organised by Guyana’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Rudolph Ten-Pow, and Consul General to New York, Ms. Barbara Atherly, have been skewed in Mr. Ram’s letter.
Ram’s comments do not, in any way, represent the points the President highlighted at the event in New York.
President Granger had said that Guyana has relied on the production of primary products in six sectors, which he referred to as the ‘six sisters’. The Head of State pointed out that since Guyana’s Independence sugar, rice, bauxite, gold diamond and timber have sustained the country’s economy. While he acknowledged the value of those sectors, the President noted that the reliance on the production of primary products has limited the expansion and growth of the economy.
“The Head of State believes that Guyana must move further towards diversification, value added production and manufacturing,” the Ministry said.
“We live under the curse of the six sisters. As long as you can remember, Guyana has depended on sugar, rice, bauxite, gold, diamonds, timber and they have been faithful to us over the years but some of them tired now.
“We need to diversify, we need to get away from the spell of these six sisters and ensure that our children have a future other than being cane cutters, our children have a future other than felling timber…
“We have to go into new industries. We have to go into manufacturing and these new industries. We are going to ensure that new industries fit into our landscape and fit into the economic plans of our country and that is where I turn to you, the members of the diaspora,” the President said.
Mr. Ram deliberately used aspects of the President’s comments, without context to create the impression that the President is critical of the contribution of those sectors to Guyana’s development and economy, the Ministry said.
The Head of State is of the view that Guyana must use those abundant resources to revolutionise those sectors, thereby increasing employment and income generation activities, rather than simply relying on the production of raw materials.
The Head of State said that the Guyanese diaspora has the technical knowledge, financial resources and skills to help change the reliance on raw resources, which has defined economic activity, the Ministry stated.
Additionally, in the same letter, Mr. Ram, referencing the President’s statement that “we don’t need barrels, we need brains,” writes that “…we will find that many persons with brains, who have stayed in Guyana will have to rely on barrels from abroad for their very survival.”
However, what the President actually said at the function is that Government, the private sector and members of the diaspora must work together to build capacity in the areas of education and technical expertise and technology.
He indicated that what Guyana needs, more than just ‘barrels’ is knowledge transfer and investment.
The Ministry of the Presidency reminds Mr. Ram that an absence of context and the selective use of quotes can only be seen as a deliberate attempt to paint a picture that is not based on fact. Instead, what is presented are at best half-truths and, at worst, abject dishonesty to feed a specific agenda.
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