Social cohesion binds ethnic groups together – President

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…as Govt launches five-year strategic plan

As Government wrapped up consultations on a five-year strategic plan at a one-day workshop on Thursday, President David Granger noted that social cohesion was the thread that would bring the various ethnic groups together.

He made these comments at the Georgetown Marriott where Government launched the social cohesion strategic plan for 2017-2021, under the theme “Building a unified Guyana”.

From left to right: Reverend Dr Raphael Massiah; Social Cohesion Minister, Dr George Norton; President David Granger; UNDP Resident Coordinator Mikiko Tanaka and Social Cohesion Programme Coordinator Sharon Patterson
From left to right: Reverend Dr Raphael Massiah; Social Cohesion Minister, Dr George Norton; President David Granger; UNDP Resident Coordinator Mikiko Tanaka and Social Cohesion Programme Coordinator Sharon Patterson

President Granger suggested that this plan would aid in reducing conflict among the races in Guyana.

“We believe that there is a way to harmonise relations and to reduce conflict among social groups. We believe that social cohesion is the thread that will bind these various groups together,” the Head of State stressed.

President Granger also warned against a repeat of the divisions of the past that surrounded the 1964 riots and disturbances in the 2000s.

“We still see how easily the ranting of a few rancorous persons can rekindle racial animosity – a step which has no place in modern society;…such inflammatory tirades run the risk of degenerating into social instability,” the President opined.

The five-year strategic plan seeks to formulate a coherent and structured process for enhancing and promoting social cohesion in Guyana. Programme Coordinator at the Ministry, Sharon Patterson outlined the vision for the social cohesion plan.

“A unified Guyana, where diversities are embraced; conflict is resolved; networks; in collaboration with stakeholders, strengthen; equity promoted and decision-making processes resulting in equal opportunities and benefits for all,” Patterson highlighted as among the goals of the project.

Social Cohesion Minister, Dr George Norton noted that a wide cross-section of Guyanese were consulted.
“This was done in the form of face-to-face municipal and regional consultations, meetings in all municipalities and the ten Administrative Regions in Guyana as well as media consultations through radio and Facebook.”

He, however, expressed regret that the Opposition People’s Progressive Party was not involved in the process.

The Social Cohesion Strategic Plan was partly based on a roundtable event in September 2015, when five key areas were identified, namely:  economic equity and opportunities, citizen safety and security, social inclusion and tolerance, inclusive and participatory governance, and harmonious ethnic and race relations. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has supported the initiative.

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