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It is the norm that when governments change hands there will be reorganization, replacement of key personnel and changes in policies. Parties which contest a general election present a manifesto to woo the electorate. It follows then that the party that wins the election secures the mandate to govern the nation for the next five years and to fulfill the pledges made in in the manifesto. Of course, the new government is under no obligation to adopt any section of the manifesto of competing parties in the election, no matter how plausible or sound it [they] may be. On the other hand, if they do, then the opposition party(ies) can accuse the ruling party of ‘stealing’ from their manifesto.
Nevertheless, the ruling party can be magnanimous and reach across the aisle to engage the opposition party(ies); being man enough to acknowledge that it does not possess all the requisite skill set to execute aspects of its programmes. This deed should in no way be interpreted as a sign of failure/ weakness/ incompetence. On the contrary, it ought to be seen as the government swallowing its pride and seeking the best for the success of certain aspects of its programmes; thereby putting the country first.
The alternative is for the government to completely shut out the opposition or look overseas for non-nationals to fill certain key positions for which the human resource is not found within Guyana. In addition, the government can extend the search to the diaspora. In this regard, is commendable that the President Ali government has signaled that it will establish a Diaspora Unit within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to engage the diaspora in Guyana’s development.
The benefits of tapping the diaspora are significant. They include:
- Sending remittances back home
- Financing election campaigns
- A repository of human capital
- They invest in businesses locally
- Remigrants bring their skills and finances
- They contribute to the tourism sector
- They organize protests in their country of residence to highlight issues affecting Guyana.
Political parties usually craft their manifestoes and execute their programmes with an eye on the next election, five years later. In this way they hope that they will do enough to guarantee re-election. This is not unexpected – which government wants to serve only one term or to lose power?
However, at this juncture where Guyana is poised for economic take-off, our leaders need to have a vision beyond five years. We should be envisioning programmes for 10, 15 and even 20 years. We should be crafting mega transformational projects to utilize the income that will accrue from the oil and gas industry, thereby catapulting us to becoming the much touted ‘Dubai of the Caribbean ‘ ; while at the same time ensuring that economic growth is accompanied by economic development. Some of the areas for consideration are in: infrastructure, power generation, efficient services, manufacturing industries, incentives for industries to ‘buy in’ to growth poles identified by the government to reduce urbanization and increase rural development, modern legislative framework, constitutional reform, crime fighting, measures to mitigate the consequences of global warming and opening up new lands for settlement and townships with careful land use planning. At the same time, the government must ensure that development occurs sustainably and with protection of the environment.
Let us get it right. Guyana on the rise. ‘Clear the way, Guyana coming back ‘[David Martin & The Trade Winds].
Bernel L. H. Wickham