GEORGETOWN:Guyana celebrated its 48th anniversary as an independent country earlier this week, acknowledging that the journey has been characterized by “valiant struggles and acts of mass heroism as well as great individual feats”.
During an address to the nation, President Donald Ramotar said that country is marking the milestone of its political history in a world that has grown more complex, more interconnected, but, unfortunately, one which still remains very unequal between the developing south and the developed north.
“International relations today are still dominated and determined by a handful of rich countries,” he said. “Many of the institutions established, particularly the international financial institutions, are mostly geared to serve the interest of the most rich and powerful countries.”
Ramotar said developing countries have to manage the affairs of their states in a disadvantageous situation, which is reflected in the growing inequality in relation to access to resources and the huge income gap between the rich and poor nations of the world.
Ramotar said that the richest 85 persons in the world are worth more than the poorest 3.5 billion persons and that almost a half of the world’s wealth is owned by just one per cent of the population.
“The struggle, therefore, for socio-economic justice and a more equitable world, continues,” he said. “One of the major issues is the need to democratize international relations. It is patently evident that the vast majority of countries in the world, and by extension the peoples of those countries, do not have enough influence on international politics and economics.”
Ramotar said that the situation demands that Guyana continues to build greater solidarity among the developing world while it works in alliance with those developed countries interested in genuine partnership.
He said the country must also continue to take the lead in promoting regional unity and pledge to work within the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) to bring stronger bonds and integration of the people of the region.
“While I know many have expressed some impatience with the pace at which this process is proceeding, let us not fail to see the gains that we have made as well,” he said. “We will continue to work towards greater co-operation and integration.”
Ramotar said that Guyana has been experiencing economic growth since 2006.
“This represents the longest period of uninterrupted real economic growth since independence in 1966,” he said.
Ramotar said last year the economy grew by five per cent and that the figure would have been greater had it not been for the difficulties being experienced within the sugar industry since the abandonment of the Sugar Protocol by Europe in 2010, resulting in the decline in the sugar price by 36 per cent.
But he said growth has been experienced in almost every sector of the economy and praised the private sector for the “significant achievements in every area of endeavour”.
However, Ramotar said he was disappointed that efforts to bring cheaper electricity to the country have been frustrated by the failure of the opposition legislators to support the Amaila Falls Hydro Project last year.
“It took us four years of negotiations to have reached that stage in 2013 and all of that has been lost,” he said. “But we are determined to get this project; already we have recommenced the search and opportunities to bring hydropower to our country. We will also pursue other forms of cheap, reliable and renewable (green) energy in the future. These will include wind, solar and co-generation.”
Ramotar also expressed frustration at the failure of the National Assembly to pass legislation to deal with anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism.