Private sector sees merit in US democracy project

-urges both governments to reach consensus

The Private Sector Com-mission (PSC) yesterday said there is merit in a democracy project that the US is pursuing here and urged Georgetown and Washington to pursue an agreement for the benefit of the country.

Guyana  on November 26 last year announced it was abandoning the Leadership and Democracy (LEAD) project but the US stated in December that it was going ahead with it despite the government’s objection. This standoff sparked a flurry of statements from both  countries and from a variety of groups here. The government here charged that the US decision to go ahead despite its objection was a breach of sovereignty. In recent weeks, government has softened its position and said it is prepared to have discussions on the project but it must first be put on hold. The US has not offered an official position on this as yet.

The PSC in a statement said it met with the Charge d’Affaires of the Embassy of the United States of America, Bryan Hunt and with Donald Ramotar, President of Guyana, with regard to the project.

The PSC said it was fully briefed by Ramotar on the position of the government and was advised that the government was yet to be convinced that the USAID-funded project as proposed would be in the best interest of Guyana and that the US Government had been so advised.  The PSC is however of the view that the project has merit.

“The Commission, having reviewed the Summary and Proposed Activities of the Project Document is, however, of the view that there is merit in the overall objectives outlined in the document to promote effective and responsive democratic institutions in Guyana and for motivating youth and women to be more engaged in the political and civic processes, but that its implementation must not go forward without the full agreement and sanction of the Government.

“It is the conclusion of the Private Sector, therefore, that both the Government of Guyana and the Government of the USA have left the door open for further discussion and refinement of the Project Proposal and we, therefore, have encouraged both parties to pursue consensus and to come to a mutually agreed position for the benefit of the country”, the PSC said.

Other groups in society have also come out in support of the project.

When it had announced its withdrawal from the project, the government had contended that it had not been properly consulted. However, in an exclusive interview with Stabroek News, US Ambassador Brent Hardt said that the government had been kept in the loop. He also rejected other charges made by government officials including that the project would provide money to opposition parties.

The government here has not provided details on its objections to the project.

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