based Guyanese embrace their President!
The Heads of Government Conference held in St. Lucia 16 & 17 of August,
2002 provided the Guyana-St. Lucia Association an opportunity for their
membership and the wider Guyanese community to embrace their President
- His Excellence Bharat Jagdeo, President of the Republic of Guyana.
The President and his party which included Honourable Clement Rohee -
Minister of Foreign Trade and International Cooperation, Ambassador Elizabeth
Harper - Director General, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Ms. Tamara
Whalen - Caricom Desk Officer, office of the President headed straight
to the Indies Conference Centre upon arrival at the Vigie Airport on the
evening of Thursday 15 August, 2002. On His Excellency's arrival at the
Indies just moments before 7:00 p.m., he was garlanded by a young lady
and headed through the corridor to the reception area where he was greeted
by cheers from the packed hall.
The programme which was oganised by President Bishnu Tulsie and members
of the Executive of the Guyana-St. Lucia Association in collaboration
with the Hononary Consul for the Republic of Guyana, Mr. Lokesh Singh.
I am under no illusion that everyone gathered was of the same political
persuasion but one thing that was evident was that Guyanese embraced their
President and were on their best behaviour. It was a demonstration that
Guyanese people have the capacity to live together even as we do here
in St. Lucia. The Executive of the Association is indicative of such a
situation. It was a privilege and a pleasure for me to be the master of
ceremonies for such a momentous occasion.
We heard from our President and it is so unfortunate that only the bad
things like the murders of policemen in the line of duty that attract
the attention of journalists in Guyana. What about the good things that
are happening inspite of an unco-operative opposition?
President Jagdeo made it abundantly clear that he is willing to co-operate
but there is only so much he can do. However, he was optimistic that the
Party Congress which would be held within days would result in a return
to the negotiating table.
Some highlights of President Jagdeo's speech as listed here under:-
(1) Guyana forecasted a 2% growth rate, it is now anticipated to be around
(2) 50,000 Guyanese got house lots.
(3) There are 30,000 state employees.
(4) To ensure good governance there are a number of commissions.
(a) Integrity Commission
(b) Ethnic Relations
(d) Human Rights Gender and Equality.
(e) Child Rights
The constitution was changed in 2001 and to sit on any Commission, the
person must get two third's support of the House of Assembly.
President Jagdeo stressed that with inclusivity comes responsibility.
The opposition must be prepared to sit down and talk. He said that Guyana
has the resources to make all its people comfortable. The will to move
forward is necessary.
(5) With respect to crime there are five escaped prisoners, equipped with
heavy weapons shooting at police. There is need to change the policing
method, Scotland Yard is assisting. Intelligence gathering would be restructured.
Mr. Felix who will assume duty as Police Commissioner, effective January
1, 2003 will leave for overseas shortly to acquire protective gear and
fire power for his men. The Government will spend $100,000,000.00 in equipping
the police force.
(6) There are tremendous economic problems facing the region. Major dislocation
in agriculture and other industries pose potential risk to stability,
noted that Paddy was being dumped in the Jamaica market. Unfair practices
in the Financial Sector. Criminal Deportees over 700 in Guyana and have
brought sophistication into crime.
(7) No one country can face these challenges alone and there is need to
act in concert.
(8) Guyana's macro economic environment debt burden and salaries took
up 100% of revenue and as much as 114% a few years. Had the highest foreign
debt - 2 billion dollars, now down to 1 billion - 130 million to service
debt now down to 40 million . Inflation was high.
Interest rates now 14% all these factors result in a stable macro environment.
(9) The infrastructure is being rebuilt.
(10) Traditional industries are being restructured to be much more cost
competitive. Eco-Tourism, Semi Precious Stones, High Quality Products.
There is a major thrust in the field of IT Industries which will employ
(11) Generally, Guyanese have a major political challenge as confrontational
politics is being practiced. President Jagdeo said he is fed up with confrontational
politics. He said he is pinning his hope on the young generation. He doesn't
want to look to the past but rather to the future.
(12) President Jagdeo responded to many questions from the audience.
Other activities of the evening included:-
(1) Welcome remarks were given by President Bishnu Tulsie who introduced
the members of his Executive.
(2) Overview of Guyanese contribution to St. Lucia society was given by
Mr. Lokesh Singh, Honorary Consul to St. Lucia. The three Honorees who
were honoured by the Association at the 2002 Guyana Republic Day Anniversary
function in February for their outstanding contributions to St. Lucia
and other Caribbean communities in their respected areas of endeavour
(a) Mr. Madho Beepat for outstanding contribution to Business. He was
unavoidably absent but was represented by his sons Neil and Brian Beepat.
(b) Mr. Joseph Reds Perreira for outstanding contribution to sports.
(c) Mr. Jeffrey Jones for outstanding academic achievement at the Cambridge
A Level Exams 2001 with 3 As and 1 B. He is currently out of state but
was represented by his parents - Mr. and Mrs. Frederick Jones.
The Guyana National Cricket Team was introduced to the audience by their
Manager, Mr. Patrick Legall.
(3) A cheque was presented to Ms. Joan Didier, Executive Director of the
St. Lucia Aids Action Foundation by President Bishnu Tulsie.
(4) Mr. Earl Bousquet introduced His Excellency President Bharat Jagdeo.
(5) Mr. Devon Barrow, a Guyanese National played the National Anthems
of Guyana and St. Lucia on the steel pan.
(6) Mrs. Ella Gillette gave the Invocation and Ms. Felicia Abdool moved
the Vote of Thanks.
On completion of the official programme, President Jagdeo and Party mingled
freely with persons present and continued to answer their questions. As
would be expected a good stock of Eldorado Rum was on hand along with
specially prepared Guyanese food.
It was an occasion that will long be remembered. God bless you all.
August 24, 2002