Support Village Voice News With a Donation of Your Choice.
…outlines plans for the country during his inaugural address to Parliament
By Lisa Hamilton
President Irfaan Ali presented his inaugural address to the Twelfth Parliament on Thursday bringing a message of hope for a unified Guyana where all resources go towards the perpetual development of the nation.
Present at the Arthur Chung Conference Center to share the moment were First Lady, Arya Ali; Prime Minister, Brigadier (Ret’d) Mark Philips; Vice President, Bharrat Jagdeo; Chancellor of the Judiciary (ag), Madam Justice Yonette Cummings-Edwards OR, CCH; Chief Justice (ag), Madam Justice Roxane George CCH; Commissioner of Police, Nigel Hoppie; Chief of Staff of the Guyana Defence Force, Godfrey Bess; and members of the National Assembly and Diplomatic Corps.
Though the APNU+AFC Opposition was absent, the President presented a lengthy address on several core topics centred around his Administration’s plans for the nation.
Important was his focus on current and pressing issues such as the threat of COVID-19 and neighbouring Venezuela.
He promised that no resource will be spared in the fight against the virus even as the Government regrets the loss of life of all Guyanese who have died as a result of the virus.
Meanwhile, President Ali said that the threat from Venezuela has not receded simply because the International Court of Justice (the ICJ) has ruled that is has jurisdiction, which is why every Guyanese must remain united in defence of their rights and entitlements.
“Guyana’s sovereignty and territorial integrity must be the Nation’s constant unified watch. In this patriotic duty, every Guyanese must stand up to be counted. Every political party, every trade union, every business organisation must stand up and be counted,” he said.
The Head of State also spoke to Guyana’s oil wealth noting that his Government does not plan to fall prey to the ‘Dutch Disease’ but will use its wealth for diversification, modernisation sustainability.
He promised sound future production contracts; the establishment of the Petroleum Commission; the fortifying of the Local Content Policy; the establishment of an “arms-length (SWF) Sovereign Wealth Fund; job training to meet the country’s emerging needs; transparency and accountability.
He stated: “Our country must not suffer the fate of other nations that came to depend on oil and gas so substantially that they faced ruin when the sector floundered, contracted, or diminished. Revenues from oil and gas resources must be used to strengthen the agriculture, mining, manufacturing, and services sectors to make them globally competitive so that Guyana can be a resilient nation, now and in the future.”
Coming out of the controversial 2020 General and Regional Elections, the President thanked members of the Diplomatic Community and others locally for the role they played in ensuring that the current Administration was democratically elected.
Though the Government and Opposition often go head-to-head, President Ali said that what Guyanese expect are “partners in serving the country, not adversaries in pulling it apart”.
He vowed that the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) will do its part through a targeted budget and plans that address every sector and part of society.
He spoke to injecting financing into agriculture, infrastructure, health, education, youth, the environment, mining, renewable energy, national security, the business sector, technology, the people’s welfare inclusive of indigenous Guyanese, and the creation of 50,000 jobs over the next few years.
“We stand together on the cusp of what can be a new economic era of prosperity in which all will share now, and from which future generations will benefit. But let us not fool ourselves that this new economic era will happen without our collective effort. That it will happen without our national unity. That it will happen despite ourselves,” the President said.
The Head of State also expressed his hope for the strengthening of ethnic relations among Guyanese; for greater bonds with the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and for unified efforts by all leaders in Guyana, political and otherwise, for an ever-developing nation.
“The people of Guyana expect us to not spend our time squabbling and bickering; they want us to find common ground on which we can build a nation in which they are safe and their children’s future is secure,” President Ali said, adding:
“I pledge myself to that task. And I urge every representative in the National Assembly to join me in striving for its fulfilment,” the President said.