Hinterland city would address development of Indigenous People and climate change

Dear Editor,

The ideas we have proposed in the paper justifying Unity and Human Development (“UHD”), can be downloaded at http://bit.ly/18odYmG. We welcome criticisms and comments. Here, we argue that sustainable development of our nation depends on the creation of real incorporation and acknowledgement of our Indigenous people, sensible incorporation of the Diaspora, and intelligent planning for the effects of climate change.

Counting first generation Guyanese, Guyana possibly has over one million people in the Diaspora. They are educated and possess significant amounts of physical and financial assets. Therefore, this group represents the most valuable and largely untapped resource available to Guyana. Human capital is recognized by the economic growth literature as one of the most crucial inputs into the production process. Therefore, the Diaspora represents a significant pool of talent and human capital. Sending back about US$500 million each year in cash and kind remittances, the Diaspora can be a major source of financial capital. A serious economic policy agenda would therefore have to include a plausible set of policies to integrate the Diaspora into the process of national development.

With global warming and the projected increase in sea level, Guyana must plan to move critical economic activities inland. Hinterland development is also crucial because it is the most direct way to take development to our Indigenous people. Therefore, anticipating rising sea levels and the need to take development to marginalized people, Pro Guyana recognizes the need to plan at least two hinterland cities. This will also provide an opportunity to diversify the economy and promote renewed attention to urban economics. It will also be worthwhile to examine the establishment of the capitals of each Region as towns, with banking services and modern transportation and communications links.  It should be noted that Guyana’s natural and mineral resources are primarily located in the hinterland. Schools and technical institutes could be established there to ‘feed’ the relevant economic sectors.

Creating a new Hinterland city would tend to be consistent with almost all of the UHD principles. Education, health, physical security, financial development and structural production change will all be invoked. This will take development of Indigenous people beyond superficial development, such as handing out a few solar panels that can only light one bulb. It will also increase the scope of business opportunities for the private sector, thus enhancing competitiveness both through scale and scope.

The overarching narrative on national development must articulate the historically critical issues of the still unresolved Amerindian Land issue, the question of sub-surface mineral rights, the right to practise one’s culture, for example, all within the broader framework of holistic development of the country. Simply, if these issues are not at least recognized at this stage of our way forward, they will be a hindrance to achieving the goal of fairness and social justice, prerequisites for viable unity. It will be essential to ensure the democratic formulation and rapid, intense, implementation of policies to protect Indigenous peoples from the ravages of multinational corporations and other investors who, in the name of “economic development”, harm the livelihoods of Indigenous people, and destroy the rainforest. Preserving the physical environment is necessary in protecting Indigenous people and their way of life.  In light of the vast economic power historically vested in the hands of our Indigenous People, we have to indicate a compassionate understanding of these issues if we are to make headway toward the creation of a developmental state.

 

Yours faithfully,
Terrence Simon
Hubert Wong
Tarron Khemraj



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