May 30, 2017 Editorial, Features / Columnists, http://www.kaieteurnewsonline..../05/30/not-too-late/

The generation from which the two major parties in Guyana, the People’s National Congress (PNC) and the People’s Progressive Party(PPP) spring, remembers well the hopes and dreams of a young newly independent nation from Britain’s colonial grip.

Since the late 1950s and immediately after political independence was achieved in 1966, the dream was for Guyana to not only to have its own flag, national anthem and a place at the international table, but for the nation to be proud, industrious, economically viable, and able to adequately provide for its people’s needs.

Guyana has always boasted of being a proud nation with glorious achievements in many of its sectors. Sadly, the country has not really achieved economic independence due to the fact that the economy is ailing and good paying jobs are scarce, and far too many people remain mired in poverty and ignorance. Successive governments have found themselves with no choice but to hang on to the coat-tails of international lenders and donors, and for advice for almost everything.

Many are frustrated with the country’s seeming incompetence in dealing with its own affairs. This has undoubtedly driven successive governments, including the current administration, to stay off course in the execution of tough measures to reform a primitive judiciary, a backward educational system, an inefficient health care and public service, and to streamline a dysfunctional economy.

But that economic growth, when it comes, must not only benefit some, but all the citizens. Guyana has to get to a stage where all its people could have a share of the pie. Henceforth, the government must ensure that prosperity benefits everyone, or else independence would be a farce, meaningless and in name only.

Independence would be meaningful only if the government reaffirms some of the core principles from our founding fathers and guides the masses away from poverty, hunger and squalour. Guyanese are today longing for the government to adopt buy local philosophy to move the country to its next stage of development. This would not only make Guyana economically independent, but it would create jobs for farmers and encourage local and foreign entrepreneurs to invest in the country.

But economic independence and social advancement in a society where crime rears its ugly head far too many times, cannot come to pass without community cohesion and unity at every level. Therefore, it is incumbent upon this government to continue the once popular idea of cooperatives and community and neighborhood organizations, so that representative and participatory democracy can benefit people not just at election time, but in their everyday lives. Democratic, well-organized community organizations, citizens associations and cooperatives are pivotal to the development of the country. It is crucial for the government and the opposition to come to their senses and eschew the political tribalism which has dogged this country since independence.

Although there has been some progress in this regard, the process must be accelerated. That will help to reduce the cynicism so evident among the youths, many of whom have bitterly called for a unified message and vision from their national and community leaders that this nation has a viable future. Others have tempered this optimism with the knowledge that they have been at this juncture before, where no unified message was forthcoming from the leaders who found it necessary to secure their ambitions and interests ahead of the people’s concerns.

It is hoped that it is not too late for the government to seize the opportunity, be mature and adopt the philosophy of our founding fathers whose visions for the nation remain viable even though they might not have been perfect.

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