Use your energy, influence for good of Guyana – President Ali tells diaspora

Dr Irfaan Ali

…says Govt’s strategy will make Guyana more conducive for foreign investments

Stressing the importance of the diaspora to Guyana, President Dr Irfaan Ali opened the virtual Diaspora Conference on Saturday by, among other things, exhorting Guyanese living overseas to use their energies and influence for the good of Guyana, rather than the bad.

The virtual Diaspora Conference got started at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (ACCC), with President Ali making it pellucid that Government has a strategy to make Guyana even more conducive for foreign investment and for all to live in a developed society.

President Dr Irfaan Ali

“We spoke about social equality. About ensuring the development of our country does not create disparity, but that enough social safety nets are allowed in the strategy, so that all our people, all sections of our society, can move forward.”

“We’re talking about a world class education and health system. And included in that too are plans and strategies that would see healthcare services for members of the diaspora too. Specialised healthcare.”

According to President Ali, the Government understands that concerns over healthcare, education, social welfare and security would be determining factors in the diaspora coming home to invest and it is working on fixing that.

But he also urged the diaspora to use their influence in a constructive way, for the good of Guyana. The President indicated that this is not always the case, likely a reference to members of the diaspora who use social media to ferment divisions in Guyana while they themselves reside overseas.

“The diaspora is engaged in a different environment globally and we expect you to be part of the solution. And not part of the problem. And I normally like to address issues frankly. The diaspora can be and is, a very influential body. And that influence can be positive or negative.”

“And if we do an analysis of social media, we see sometimes the energy of the diaspora utilised in a negative way. So, while we celebrate the positivity, I would like to throw the challenge out there. The unification of the Guyanese people is paramount to the prosperity of Guyana,” the President also said.

Role of State

The President further assured participants that his PPP/C Government will pursue the creation of 50,000 jobs, as it committed to in its manifesto, the provision of 50,000 house lots, the facilitation of foreign direct investment, the provision of 20,000 scholarships and having a competitive oil and gas support infrastructure in Guyana capable of providing employment.

“We are in pursuit of these goals. And they’re not fly-by-night objectives of the Government. We campaigned on these. We asked the Guyanese people to support us on this, on these projects and this vision, and we have a responsibility to execute,” he said.

The President further pointed to the importance of the diaspora in also taking advantage of the opportunities ahead and encouraged them to participate in the process as the future of Guyana depends on their skills, experience and their investment.

“Importantly, these attributes must be driven by a vision and ideas, and today gives us an opportunity to engage in that vision and those ideas that will fuel the future of Guyana,” President Ali said.

When asked about the systems that will be put in place to address the unemployment of youth and school drop-outs, President Ali explained that the Government is developing a system to harness the best potential of each individual. This system, he said, will focus on the expansion of technical and vocational education that will be integrated into the secondary school system.

Meanwhile, Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo, who was present beside Ali, pointed out that as it relates to the diaspora getting involved in the education sector, the Government has already incentivised investments into the private education system by removing corporate tax on education at every level.

After the keynote address, President Ali and Vice President Jagdeo fielded questions from the participants in several areas, including access to education, agriculture, the natural resources sector and women empowerment. (First published in the Guyana Times)