2020 elections campaign should focus on economic issues, avoid usual rhetoric

Dear Editor,

As the 2020 elections campaign picks up speed, I would like to reiterate that the agenda must be about ‘creating more value from Guyana for Guyanese’. Political parties must show us how they intend to create more value from the diversity of our people; so far they have done a good job at devaluing that diversity. How will they create more value from Guyana being neighbour to the Brazil (the largest country in South America, fifth largest country in the world and the eight largest economy)?

The World Economic Forum’s Global Risks reports for the past  three years, 2016 – 2018, show the top five risks in terms of likelihood; 2016, major natural catastrophe was number 5, failure of climate change mitigation and adaptation was number 3 and extreme weather events at number 2; in 2017, major natural disasters moved to number 3, and extreme weather events was number 1; in 2018, failure of climate change mitigation and adaptation is number 5, natural disasters at number 2 and extreme weather events at number 1.

The top 5 risks in terms of impact for the past three years were; in 2016, failure of climate change mitigation and adaptation at number 1, while in 2017 this was at number 5; major  natural disasters was at number 4 and extreme weather events was at number 2. In 2018, failure of climate change mitigation and adaptation is at number 4, natural disasters number 3 and extreme weather events at number 2.

Our political agenda, and the immediate, medium and long term developmental agenda should be influenced by reports such as these.  Essentially, as indicated in the reports, there is a trend in the increase of natural disasters, extreme weather events and to some extent, issues around climate change. Hence, small islands could become more and more vulnerable to these occurrences, as we have seen in many Caribbean islands in 2017. Can more value be created from Guyana’s geographic positioning, as a part of the South American mainland? In terms of the country’s readiness to provide greater support to Caribbean (Island) countries. This could be done by assisting to build more resilience into these countries as well as improving our readiness to provide support in areas such as reconstruction or others.  For e.g., our vocational institutions could expand in training areas, such as: construction, electrical, and other skills.

Previously, I had proposed that our economic programme should essentially focus on making Guyana the Singapore of South America, the business hub in South America. We need a diverse economic policy and my suggestion is that this be developed upon six economic pillars; these are the: Green Economy, Blue economy, Service Economy, Agrarian Society or Agricultural Economy, Oil and Gas Economy and  Natural Resources Economy. Hence, this will lay the foundation for the emergence of a more structured green and diversified economy and an economic development structure for the next 30-40 years.

On the point of the Blue economy, the Global Risks Report shows that among the top five risks in terms of impact, water crisis was at number 3 in 2016 and 2017, while it is at number 5 in 2018. Analyzing these and other similar reports, can Guyana create more value from its water resources as well as begin to position itself to use that resource as an economic pillar from a macro standpoint?

The 2020 elections campaign must move beyond the usual rhetoric on race, corruption and party politics; it has to evolve to show the Guyanese people how the political leadership intend to bring more creativity and innovation into administration and management of the country, to take it to the next level.

 On the 18 June, 1940, Winston Churchill, in a speech to the House of Commons, said ‘If the British Empire and its Commonwealth last a thousand years, men will still say, “this was their finest hour”’. If Guyana lasts a thousand years, Guyanese will still say that this was our finest hour.

Yours faithfully,

Audreyanna Thomas

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