President David Granger, yesterday, visited and toured several industrial sites in Freeport, Bahamas, including the Grand Bahama Shipyard, where he said that the visit to that country has been a learning lesson for Guyana for its future growth and development.
The President, who was at the time addressing staff and members of the Grand Bahama Shipyard, was accompanied by Prime Minister of The Bahamas, The Right Honourable Perry Christie and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration, Mr. Frederick Mitchell. President Granger said that the visit to the island is an economic mission for Guyana, but coincides also as a visit for CARICOM, for which he is Chairman.
“The Bahamas [is a] a small state, not a rich state as yet but on its way to becoming a rich state making use of its favourable geographical location and of course the talent of its people to provide employment and to play a role in the global environment,” the President said. “So this is an important lesson for us in Guyana and for the other states in the Caribbean Community… So I’m very happy to be here. It’s a learning lesson for us. It’s a learning mission for us … [we’re] looking, listening and I think we have a lot of good lessons to take back to Guyana and to the rest of the Caribbean.”
The Head of State noted that The Bahamas is a lesson for the entire Caribbean, moving from a small island developing state to that of one of the leading economies in the Region.
“Many of us started off as basically plantation economies. Most of the population was brought from other continents to work in agricultural industries, but we are forced by globalisation to transform and this example of The Commonwealth of The Bahamas shows how the transformation to a modern economy could take place within the global economy. It’s a lesson for the Caribbean. It’s a lesson for the States of the Eastern Caribbean as well to make use of the unique geographical position and also the talent…although we’re a small population, just about five or six million English speaking Caribbean people, we are a very talented people,” he said.
The President noted that the entire Region is affected by the unemployment of young people and it is therefore imperative that nations begin to learn from each other, in terms of promoting growth and development, so that every citizen can benefit.
“It just shows you what we could do when we apply our own intelligence and our inventiveness and I think the resilience of our economies. Of course, Guyana doesn’t have anything like this. You boast about being the biggest shipyard. We boast about having the biggest freshwater fish, but it’s a different environment and tougher. The 15 States of the Caribbean Community will continue to demonstrate to the world that we are not a Region to be dismissed, that we have a role to play in the future not only of our own children and citizens, but also in the global economy,” President Granger said.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Christie in his remarks, said that the two countries have over the years, developed a great working relationship and this is reflected particularly in the education system of the island, in which many Guyanese have been able to share their skills and expertise.
“It is an amazing kind of experience to see for all the years I have been in public life, the large number of Guyanese recruited to work in our public system, who have contributed as nurses, doctors, and in recent times the Americans come through The Bahamas and they recruit them. One thing former [United States] Vice President Biden has said to me is that America does not apologise for taking the brightest and best because there are countries that are built on taking the brightest and best, but that translates to Guyana losing them, allowing countries like The Bahamas to get them to work here only to have Americans coming here to recruit them,” he said.
The Prime Minister further noted that it is a momentous occasion to have the Head of State and members of the Guyana Government visiting to take stock of that island’s development, echoing President Granger’s sentiments that the Caribbean islands do have a lot to learn from each other. The Bahamas particularly, he said, will rely on Guyana’s expertise in the area of agriculture as Guyana takes lessons from its tourism and economic policies.
“For me, it is a significant experience to have you here on a state visit because no state visit of this magnitude would be complete without bringing our guest to the field and see how strong our beating hearts of industry is in this country. Just as The Bahamas can teach, it has a lot to learn from its sister countries in the Caribbean particularly in the area of agriculture and so we welcome you. All of us must see to the extent that we are able to work together, to that extent we will be able to get a better opportunity to finding that formula that will enable our countries to proposer and to more meaningfully secure the future for our children,” he said.
Bahamian Foreign Affairs Minister, Mr. Mitchell in his remarks, said that the people of the island are honoured to host the Guyanese delegation and to explore opportunities, which can help to further put the two countries on the road to development in every area.
“We all have to have a common understanding and acceptance of what our country is. When visitors come from abroad, we have a deeper sense of appreciation for what kind of country we are and that is why we are so pleased to have the President of Guyana come here today. It was quite moving to see him as he watched his citizens who are helping to build this country support him as he visited the schools…as he met with them, those here in Grand Bahama were able to see the back filling as it were, of the teacher who come to them, that Guyana is no longer a mystery because it is now tied to the leader of their country who has come here and left his imprimatur on our country,” he said.