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After 55 years of Independence and 51 years of republican status Guyanese have not been able to develop a vision by, and for, all Guyanese. The era of President Burnham was undoubtedly the era when the project of a national vision was most evident. However, notwithstanding some historic moments in respect to matters of the economy and national defense, there has arguable been no grand vision that has been developed by the people, with which the people at large have identified. As a consequence, Guyana as a nation has never been able to optimise the deployment of it resources (human, natural and financial) for nation building. This has partly been caused by the chronic polarisation of the society along the political and ethnic divide. This may be attributed to the manner and nature of the evolution of the society, which initially may have been orchestrated in the interest of the colonisers and the ruling class but now persists in the interest of ethnic cabals that constitute the ruling class at various times but coop their kit and kin to bolster and sustain their domination. Ironically, this state of affairs is inimical to the development of the country as a whole and it various constituents, who unfortunately not only suffer as a consequence but are the instruments that inflict that suffering upon themselves.
The current floods and the response exemplifies this dilemma. The floods of 2005 were described as the Great Flood. The President has described the current floods as the “greatest floods” yet the prevailing politicking does not even provide an opportunity for a parliamentary discourse, much less a national discourse, on a matter that affects the national at large and all of its constituent parts. This situation signals a decade in our politics when juxtaposed to 2005 when, at least, there was a parliamentary debate on a flood which is now described as been of lesser magnitude that the one currently being experienced.
The development of a nation is epitomised by the creation of institutions that reflect the interests of the nation at large and its constituent parts. The institutions take the form of entities, common norms and values that are developed by, and for, the people. In many instances, the values represent common/national aspirations. The National Insurance Scheme, which was not initially embraced by all, has survived to become an example of a national institution although it was initially rejected by an element of our body politic. It provides the lessons about the power of the people to rise above partisan politics and embrace that which is good for them. Unfortunately, our examples of such successes are sketchy and the fracturing rather than the coming together has been more prevalent.
In the face of our present situation the Green State Development Strategy provides sound principles, policies and potential transformational programmes. Illustrations of the aforementioned can be found under the following Policy Recommendations of the Strategy:
E5.1 Protect and/or restore mangrove areas.
E5.2 Reconstruct, rehabilitate and maintain critical sections of the sea and river defences.
E5.3 Improve the capacity of the drainage system and improve early warning systems.
Alas, the approach has been to throw out the baby with the bath water and to return to ground zero when substantial work has already been done, which if embraced can provide a head start for resolving or ameliorating the problem that affect us all.
If we fail to build institutions, our efforts at development are doom to fail and while we continue to tout the Private Sector as the engine of growth there will be no facilitator of development. We cannot perpetuate the politics and the State that we inherited and expect to develop at the same time. Development and the politics of yore are diametrically opposed. The culture of the past fostered the development of the colonizers and their Stat