I wish you a happy, healthy and hopeful New Year, 2019!
Your government starts the year by recommitting to consolidating Guyana as a safe society with a stable economy and strong parliamentary democracy. The Constitution is supreme.
All citizens could expect improvements in their personal well-being and quality of life. Your government, through prudent management, has ensured the amelioration of citizens’ lives over the past three and a half years.
Workers’ incomes increased, access to the delivery of public services – such as public education, public health and public utilities and public infrastPructure – improved. New towns were created; new jobs were generated.
Guyana witnessed the irreversible institutionalisation of local democracy through the establishment of four capital towns and the renewal of the local government system. Elections were held again in 2016 and 2018 in accordance with the Constitution.
Local government elections consolidated democracy at the grass-roots level, empowered citizens and facilitated their free and unfettered involvement in decision-making in their municipalities and communities.
Your government has renewed public confidence in the economy by embarking on programmes of diversification. It has attracted investments, increased exports of traditional and non-traditional commodities, encouraged small- and medium-size enterprises and laid the foundation for the strategic development of the emergent energy sector.
Improvements in citizens’ well-being have generated hope in our future. The impending implementation of the ‘Green State Development Strategy’ will realise Guyana’s undeniable potential as a land of promise and prosperity. Everyone will be able to enjoy a good life while protecting the environment for future generations.
Your government will continue to consolidate measures aimed at ameliorating citizens’ quality of life. Budget 2019 has proposed policies aimed at sustaining the economy, strengthening local democracy, stimulating social cohesion and creating new jobs. Everyone will benefit:
- Children in schools will benefit from expanded opportunities to develop the skills and talents that will be unlocked by the allocation of G$52.2 billion for the education sector.
They will enjoy extended and better equipped schools and classrooms and improved teaching and curricula reform tailored to meet the challenges of modern education. The Public Education Transport Service assures free daily attendance at school for thousands of children.
- Citizens will continue to enjoy the improvements we have made in the provision of other public services – citizenship and immigration, public information, public communications, public infrastructure, public security, public telecommunications, public utilities, sport, solid waste management and pure water supply.
Pensioners will gain further increases in social security benefits. Support for the disabled, disadvantaged and destitute and social assistance for persons at risk demonstrate our care for our most vulnerable citizens.
- Workers will gain increases in the minimum basic salary of public servants and the raising of the income-tax threshold. Families will have easier access to housing and more reliable water and electricity supply.
- Youth will be able to employ their creativity and ingenuity and their entrepreneurship will be stimulated by the infusion of seed capital, training and other support for their efforts.
State sponsored agencies ― Hinterland Employment Youth Service; Linden Enterprise Network; Micro- and Small-Enterprises Development; Sustainable Livelihoods and Entrepreneurial Development and Youth Entrepreneurial Skills Training programmes ― have already proven their worth by helping mainly young people to establish their own business enterprises.
- Farmers will benefit through improved drainage and irrigation and, tax exemptions on materials used in the agricultural sector.
- Hinterland residents have started to see the advantages of the establishment of four new towns – at Bartica, Mabaruma, Mahdia and Lethem.
The advantages of capital towns in these huge hinterland regions include the efficient delivery of public services, enhanced economic opportunities, improved infrastructure and heightened frontier security. Citizens now enjoy access to national news through the establishment of Regional Public Broadcasting Service stations at Aishalton, Bartica, Lethem, Mabaruma, Mahdia and Orealla.
Your government has provided for improved health care and advances towards universal health coverage in 2019. We will consolidate improvements in maternal health and in the reduction of communicable and non-communicable diseases. Public health institutions will be better equipped and provided with adequate medicines and medical personnel.
Frontier security has been strengthened in the face of a flood of migrants fleeing distress in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. Your Government over the last three and a half years has worked tirelessly to secure our national borders. The UN Secretary General’s decision in January 2018 to refer the Venezuelan territorial claim to the International Court of Justice is most welcome and Guyana anticipates a favourable outcome to this controversy.
The support of the Caribbean Community and other friendly states for Guyana’s territorial sovereignty has reassured citizens and foreign investors of the safety and security of our country.
The Guyana Defence Force has consolidated the Guyana People’s Militia on a regional basis. Reforms in the security-sector are being implemented to ensure safer communities in 2019. The Guyana Police Force will be expected to expedite security sector reform with the aim of guaranteeing human safety and public order and supressing transnational crime.
The National Assembly and the Judiciary are the bedrock of our democracy. Your government remains committed to upholding the Constitution, preserving the rule of law and guaranteeing a safe, stable, orderly and peaceful country.
We respect the courts which protect our institutions and system of democracy.
Recent developments in the National Assembly have created opportunities for enhanced political cooperation. Meetings between the Government and Opposition will take place in the new year to discuss and determine the way forward for our country.
Your government is prepared to work with the Opposition to ensure that our national objectives are achieved and that 2019 can be a satisfactory year for all.
I am confident that life for all Guyanese will continue to improve in 2019. Guyanese can expect, by the end of the new year, to live in a state with more secure borders; communities that are safer; an economy that is more resilient; a society that is more cohesive and public services that are more easily accessible.
Happy New Year to all!