Latest update May 31st, 2023 3:04 PM
May 26, 2023 News
Kaieteur News – Message from Mr. Patrick M. Yarde, President/CEO on Guyana’s 57th Independence Anniversary
Happy fifty-seventh Independence Anniversary, Guyana. As a people, it is our desire to improve the quality of our lives and our relationships with each other. This was manifested in the National Motto of unanimous consent, “One People, One Nation, One Destiny”. But over these post-independence years, the real fruits or true value of our labours still seem beyond our mortal reach. The absence of a living wage, evenhandedness and real employment opportunities are stumbling blocks to betterment, coupled with the cost-of-living juggernaut that is relentless and unforgiving. Life in Guyana is challenging, with much dependency on remittances from abroad to sustain the needs for food, housing, recreation and loan servicing, among other needs. When nothing is forthcoming from “foreign sources”, life is a hell-like experience. So much for independence, during dependency.
The Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU) has for decades reminded Governments of the need to have a national policy on wages and salaries and for the minimum wage to be upwardly reviewed. Governments, to the detriment of the workers, have avoided collective bargaining for wages, salaries and allowances, and in preference instituted annual unilateral impositions of miniscule increases at the end of the year, which does nothing to lift workers out of the morass of economic difficulties that have entrenched them over the years. On the discovery of oil, one would have thought that the opportunity would have been seized to rectify the age-old imbalances in wages, salaries and allowances in order to create a new era for the working class, but this proved to be nothing more than wishful thinking. Instead, there has been insensitive political campaigning and monetary splurges that added very little, if any, to the purchasing power of many workers, inclusive of Public Servants, the largest group of workers.
The problems of the Country lie not only within the financial incapacity of the majority of its peoples, but also in the deep racial divides that have been kept alive by backward and unenlightened persons, because of selfish desires. On this point, President Ali was quoted in a Guyana Chronicle report of February 21, 2023, as uttering the following words during an engagement with Guyanese in The Commonwealth of the Bahamas, viz.
“And that is what I’ve been working on; creating this ‘One Guyana’ in which we build a system that delivers prosperity for every single Guyanese and every single Guyanese family.”
“This, for me, is the important project, changing the mindset, changing the way we relate to each other, community by community, household by household. And I assure you I will not rest until this country is unified.”
The GPSU, because of its interests in national unity, as a necessary basis of national development and the harmonious existence of Guyanese with each other, had always advocated that Government should take the lead towards bridging the racial divide. As such, the GPSU dispatched a letter to President Ali on March 2, 2023 indicating its willingness to partner with him “…. on the journey towards the achievement of National Unity.”
It could not be determined whether the Union’s proposal was well received, as the missive was never acknowledged. Instead, the GPSU has been confronted with the ongoing and relentless efforts of Governments operatives to undermine the Union’s Constitutional and lawful role to represent and protect its members from abuse, including unlawful and unfair treatment. The most recent is the impending the appointment of the Public Service Commission.
The discovery of oil on our shores, heralded a new era, where there was much expectation from the people of higher standards of living. This belief quickly evaporated when nothing substantial was added to monthly salaries and wages of workers and “runaway prices” made life even more difficult. Of course, miniscule handouts were made in some quarters, while in others there were more substantial payouts.
Nevertheless, these “titbits” were all insufficient to have meaningful impacts on the livelihoods of the population of Guyana. In effect, the disproportionate payouts sensitized all concerned of the real divisions that existed, nationally.
Further, in anticipation of large oil revenues, Government embarked on substantial borrowings from international financial institutions, significantly raising the public debt per capita. The newly incurred debt is being used to finance projects conceived by Government, with very little national consultation, if any, with the peoples of Guyana.
This in the opinion of many is “unharnessed governance” and to the detriment of the people. One case in point is the “gas to shore” project, with a projected cost approximately US$1.7 billion. This hasty approach is being pursued ignoring the multitude of experiences visible internationally of the consequences of bad governance and decisions, as well as, the wide-spread reservations expressed nationally by the Citizenry.
To cap it all, Guyanese are leaving the Country in droves to seek work overseas, because of the sparsity of opportunities for gainful employment in Guyana. An investment in oil and gas training and other spin-offs may create opportunities for employment of citizens within oil and gas undertakings and also stem the migration of jobless citizens to other countries.
As an independent nation, Guyanese need to stand together in defense of its patrimony and demand that persons elected to serve as leaders deliver to the expectations of the people. The time for political vacillation and debauchery was removed since May 26, 1966 and for fifty-seven years thereafter, the Country was ruled by sons of the soil, whose claim to fame and greatness is yet to be matched by true mettle. Many countries, over that time span have shown significantly more development, which points undeniably to the possibility of entrenched corruption. This must be rooted out and vanquished forever.
Guyana, must survive the turbulence, which has an inclination to reduce its peoples to mendicants, in the world of development. Leadership must rise from the morass of the current crop and a new beginning forged to allow for positive development.
I therefore call upon the people, irrespective of individual political beliefs and persuasions, imbue new Country oriented mindsets. Summon the strength and independence to stand for what is just and right. Our minds must dispel all things that threaten harmony and/or strive to make the achievement of the virtues of our national motto, a myth. As a priority, the law-abiding citizens of Guyana must stand in defense of each other, recognizing that power resides in the people. It is only with such unity that positive development can be achieved in Guyana for the benefit of all and to achieve the timely emergence as either “El Dorado” or “Dubai of the Caribbean”.
Therefore, with the expectation of a unified stance in favour of rooting out systemic corruption and piloting Guyana on a correct course as an independent nation, I would like to extend best wishes on the occasion of the 57th Independence Anniversary to all Guyanese, on behalf of the Executive Council, Members, and Staff of the GPSU, and myself and my family. Together we must aspire to achieve a bright future, working and living together in love, unity and harmony.
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