Aug 10, 2020 News Comments Off on Guyana and Suriname to bridge countries, establish working committees on local content, etc. – Presidents Santokhi & Ali
Both Guyana and Suriname face similar economic challenges. But only a unified and strategic approach can ensure the two CARICOM nations surpass such obstacles and achieve their development goals. In recognition of this reality, President Irfaan Ali and Surinamese President, Chandrikapersad Santokhi, told the media yesterday that they have agreed to establish a working committee aimed at finding solutions to stimulate economic growth.
Formed at the policy and technical level and buttressed by the private sector of Guyana and Suriname, this working committee will seek to lay the framework that will improve multiple sectors such as health, infrastructure, education, agriculture, Information and Computer Technology (ICT), and security. Considering that both countries are oil producers, specific attention will be given to how both nations can collaborate on this front. In providing an example of what this could look like, President Ali said that there would be a joint-engagement that will improve Local Content through the training of the citizens, so that they are prepared to reap the benefits from the lucrative petroleum industry.
President Ali further highlighted that by setting out this new agenda, it will ensure that the governments strategically position themselves to not only benefit, but to ensure that the people benefit from a transparent process.
“We also recognize,” President Ali said, “that we need to set out an agenda that is proactive with deadlines; an agenda with greater involvement with stakeholders in the society of both countries—especially the private sector.”
Against this background, Ali noted that both governments have also discussed ways in which the private sector of Suriname and Guyana will collaborate and be part of this “transformational landscape that can bring tremendous benefits” to the countries.
Ali also emphasized the need for time-bound objectives, as he shared with the media, the plan of action to reopen the ferry service in the Corentyne River. He explained that the Ministers of Health for both countries “are to almost immediately begin collaboration on the protocols and to put systems in place for a review so that we can move expeditiously in returning and opening up in a manner that can bring back normalcy.”
Ali said that these systems, however, must be executed with strict COVID-19 restrictions for one has to bear in mind the reality of the pandemic and the need to ensure that systems are there to support the decisions that will be made.
The bridging of the Corentyne River was another objective on which discussions were held. The President indicated that both governments have begun immediate discussions and technical work to fast track this project. He is of the firm view that it will add value in terms of economic efficiency.
Echoing similar sentiments, President Santoki noted that the bond between the two nations is strong while adding that it will form the foundation for future development.
“We should seize this opportunity and seek new ways in which to provide our people with a better life,” he said. The Surinamese President also said that cooperation will not only be at the Government level but will include the private sector. He stressed that it is the role of the Government to facilitate private sector engagements while noting that sustainable development should come from small and medium scale enterprises.
Both Heads of State maintained that the bilateral engagement was not just discussions and promises as a proactive action plan is scheduled to be produced within the coming weeks.
While previous Heads of Government had held discussions on deepening ties and enhancing development in both countries, President Santoki said he is confident that the plans discussed will materialize as both he and President Ali are committed to providing a better life for their citizens.
“These are two leaders who will work day and night for the people of Guyana and Suriname based on their own responsibility towards the nation as well as shared responsibility on issues which are binding us,” President Santoki stated.
According to the Foreign Affairs Minister Hugh Todd, the working committee is expected to move aggressively by mid-September at which point it will convene its first policy level meeting later in October.
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