Guyana’s top diplomat in Canada is set to return home satisfied that he has fulfilled his mandate of promoting the country’s interests and raising its profile and visibility.
Rajnarine Singh demits office at the end of the month as Guyana’s High Commissioner in Ottawa for the past 12 years. He has been the dean of the diplomatic corps since March 2008 after taking over from El Salvador’s ambassador, Mauricio Rosales Rivera.
The longest serving ambassador in a country’s diplomatic corps is conferred with the title of dean.
“With that special privilege, I was able to do a great deal of networking on a wider and more frequent basis,” Singh, who replaced the late Brindley Benn in Ottawa in 1998, said at an end-of-year press briefing at the Guyana Consulate in Toronto last week. “It was certainly an honour and pleasure to serve in that position and I think Guyana has benefited from me being there.”
Singh said he’s leaving with no regrets even though he came here from the private sector and he had originally intended to fill the diplomatic post for just three years.
“I am not a career diplomat, but I certainly was able to bring passion and the ability to vehemently promote Guyana wherever and whenever possible,” he said. “I travelled to every province with the exception of Prince Edward Island and was able to meet with Guyanese and also Canadian business groups and sell our country as a place to vacation and do business.
“In the last few years, several mining companies – particularly in British Columbia – have registered in Guyana to do business and I would want to believe that came about in part because of me being out there promoting opportunities for investment.
“It was also clear to me that Guyanese nationals are still very much interested in the country of their birth and this was very evident during the 2005 floods when they dug deep down in their pockets and gave everything they could to assist family and friends back home. That was really touching. The support has been overwhelming and I do hope they continue to contribute when called on.”
Singh said he intends to ease back into private life on his return to Guyana.
“Apart from serving perhaps on a board, I don’t see myself playing any major role in government,” he said. “I am at an age where I am contemplating retirement, so I am not looking for any heavy workload.”
Guyana’s ambassador to Brazil, Harry Narine Nawbatt, will replace Singh. He’s expected to arrive in Ottawa during the first week of February.
The married father of three and University of Guyana graduate taught for three years at Annandale Primary School before joining the public service. The 64-year-old worked in the Deeds Registry, the Ministry of Finance, the Post Office Savings Bank, the Ministry of Works, the Office of the Auditor General and the defunct Guyana Airways and served as executive director of the Social Impact Amelioration Program and project manager of the Poor Communities Support Services Project before becoming Minister of Transport & Hydraulics and later Minister of Housing & Water.
An accountant by profession, Nawbatt took up his first diplomatic assignment in Brazil in November 2008.
Guyana is still without a Consul General in Toronto after Danny Doobay demitted office last October 31 after 12 years. Sattie Sawh, the wife of late Guyana cabinet minister, Sash Sawh, is holding the portfolio on an interim basis.