Remarks by Mr.Hugh Desmond Hoyte, S.C. at the launching of the PNC REFORM 2001Manifesto Hotel Tower Monday, March 5, 2001
Agenda For Development: On behalf of the People’s National Congress Reform, I wish to welcome you to the launch of the Agenda For Development, our programme for the modernisation of Guyana. This document flows from an extensive process of consultation with a wide cross-section of Guyanese from all walks of life. It is therefore reflective of the needs and aspirations of all of our people, irrespective of their age group or ethnicity. The issues we address touch lives whether we are from the city, the towns, the villages or hinterland communities.
All across this country, there is a growing feeling of impatience with the status quo. There is strong and rising desire for change. Our Agenda For Development is a blueprint for that change.
Mr Chairman, I would like at the very outset to state two affirmations. First, that we present ourselves as the PNC Reform, a Party enhanced by the addition of many
talented citizens representing every social category of Guyanese based both at home
and overseas. They have recognised compelling arguments for becoming involved in
the political processes through the Reform movement. They have brought additional dimensions and experiences to our Party and will, in our view, make the probability of success of our development process even more certain. The PNC Reform is the result
of a political conviction that inclusiveness enhances our capacity to serve this nation, a conviction which has become more entrenched in our Party over the years.
Secondly, we affirm that the parlous state of Guyana’s economy and the magnitude
of our social and institutional problems demand that we cannot continue with business
as usual. The mechanisms and paths which have brought us to this point must be rejected firmly and irrevocably. It is in that context that we present an agenda for development that is comprehensive, thorough, and radical. A defining characteristic
of the PNC Reform is that it looks to the future – unlike our opponents, whose focus
is firmly rooted in the past. Agenda For Development represents the people’s vision
for the future of Guyana. It advocates a number of bold, imaginative and achievable initiatives. Implicit in its boldness is a tacit desire of all Guyanese to approach the future with confidence and to work assiduously together for social and economic advancement. People are at the centre of the Agenda. Our objectives are to
generate sustainable development and to foster real improvements in the quality
of life of all of our people.
Some of our fundamental principles are:
The need to ensure that private initiative and entrepreneurship underpin the development thrust of Guyana.
The involvement of all the human resources that could be available to
Guyana’s development effort.
The importance of making use of relevant technological advances in our development process.
The need to continue to move away from previous views about the role of the state in economic life,
The need to devise and implement a new form of governance for Guyana that will allow us to move away from: ethnic divisiveness, over-centralisation of decision-making, inefficiencies in project implementation, disregard for the rule of
law, and the mushrooming growth of corruption.
The need to move towards a political system based on the inclusion of individuals, their communities, and their organisations in decision-making about their affairs.
All this involves consciously moving away from the traditional “winner take all”
approach which dictates the objectives of public life and governance at national and regional levels in our multi-ethnic society.
Guyana’s current parlous state has resulted from important deficiencies including
poor capabilities of the systems of governance and inadequate systems for making
and implementing development programmes. These deficiencies have created an atmosphere of low productivity, low morale and pessimism among citizens. The conviction has begun to take root that an individual’s or a community’s welfare resides substantially in the hands of the Party in power, rather than in their own. The Party in government is incapable of comprehending and responding creatively to these challenges. It does not recognise the inappropriateness of its approach that places loyalty to the Party above competence and national interest.
The PNC Reform believes that the modernisation of Guyana depends upon a ‘social
and economic transformation’. By this we refer to a process which creates a more competitive, productive society with levels of skills and other competitive capabilities different from, and far higher than at present. This can only be achieved through the enhancement of individuals, communities and institutions, using appropriate policies for investment in the human, physical, and cultural aspects of development. We believe that social and economic transformation should be based on clear priorities, including:
The creation of wealth and access to opportunity as important aspects of economic development
The importance of job creation and micro economic opportunity as a crucial aspect of combating poverty
The importance of new technology and modern systems in training, learning, management and research as a basis for creating a new social and economic environment.
The importance of reforming and modernising key national institutions.
The importance of modernising and reforming the nature of governance
The Social and Economic Transformation of Guyana will include the following initiatives:
The reorganisation of traditional sectors
The expansion of our infrastructure base.
The establishment of new industries and the generation of massive
The introduction of a modern Freedom of Information Act
The removal of government ownership and the unfettering of all media as a prerequisite to greater openness in our society and governance.
The granting of autonomy and scope to the people at the community, neighbourhood and regional levels.
The enabling of greater participation in the social transformation by the integration of the work of government with the social partners such as organised labour, private sector and the NGOs in the relevant sectors.
The modernisation of Guyana, which we intend to promote, will not be possible
without far reaching measures directed at reshaping and restructuring key institutions, as well as the creation of more appropriate and useful institutions to cope with the nature and pace of reform. We propose new ministerial emphases on tourism, science and information technology, and development. Important sectors will be grouped for better coordination; in particular, Ministries with concerns for the social sector will be strongly coordinated within a social policy planning approach. The operations of Parliament will be given greater prominence and support. Mechanisms
for the greater involvement of the Parliament and its sub committees, including those recommended in the constitutional reform process will be utilised to give transparent oversight to the activities of the governmental system.
A modernised financial sector will have primary responsibility for mobilizing and allocating savings and investable resources. We will ensure the independence and autonomy of the Central Bank, establish a functioning Insurance Authority, implement
the phased development of a Securities Exchange, and establishment of a modern Development Bank with provision of micro-enterprise funding as one of its major priorities. We will give high priority to mobilising the investment of Guyanese overseas.
In order to build investor confidence in the modernising of our economy, as well as to restore the confidence of citizens in the rule of law, the efficiency, impartiality, and image of the legal system will be restored. Reforms in progress in the Public Service and wider State sector will be strengthened and the status of the magistracy, the judiciary and the registry will be enhanced.
The current decline of public confidence in the police not only has a depressing effect on public morale but is also disincentive to investment and economic growth. The PNC Reform will move with urgency to reform the police and its community relations, improve salaries and conditions of service and restore the professionalism of the force. The establishment of credible and independent mechanism for investigating complaints against the police will be crucial to re-establishing and maintaining professionalism and public confidence.
Modernisation requires the creation of institutions dedicated to research, and
knowledge creation, with which to fuel the development process. For example, we
intend to create a National Economic Advisory Council; a high-powered
“Think-Tank”, in which our deepest thinkers can continually monitor and anticipate
global developments and advise on a national response. In addition, we will establish
a strong and modern autonomous Statistical Service, with which to provide the
necessary data for making intelligent decisions.
The University of Guyana directly and through university international networking
will be brought into a pivotal role in research, consultancy, advisory, and technology transfer relationship with the governmental structure.
We plan to set up a number of National Commissions/Task Forces to provide public solutions for many of the complex problems that we face. There will include poverty Reduction, Housing, Telecommunications, Tourism, Social Policy, and, Tax Reform. Because of the fundamental roles communities play in our society, effective and responsive regional and local government structures are absolutely essential. We
intend to radically re-structure regional and local government in keeping with best practices elsewhere and our vision of inclusiveness and participation.
Far-reaching challenges to Public Sector management are raised by the priorities
of the Reform Agenda for the way the Public Service is structured and organized.
We intend to address this through a programme of Public Sector Reform and modernization that involves all the stakeholders directly: government, workers,
unions, NGO’s, and communities.
The PNC Reform government will place high priority on transforming, modernizing
and diversifying the Guyana economy to render it relevant and competitive in the
global market place. In this process of change, policy will be directed at returning
to high levels of growth by achieving higher levels of productivity and competitiveness, while simultaneously promoting entry into new, lucrative areas of economic activity.
The PNC Reform’s objective is to secure growth primarily through private
initiative. It sees the role of government as a catalyst for constructive change, the facilitator of economic activity and provider of the regulatory framework for fair
competition and order in the market. The thrust of the PNC Reform policy will be to unfetter the innovative and entrepreneurial spirit of the individual Guyanese, thereby achieving true economic empowerment.
Among our broad macro economic objectives will be:
To optimise competitiveness of the goods and commodities produced in key sectors.
To build on unique strengths of the people and the country, such as creativity, cultural diversity, natural beauty and strategic location to expand the
economy into service and knowledge based activity.
To actively promote quality, efficiency and competitiveness.
To engage in aggressive export marketing of locally produced goods and services.
To attract a mix of local and foreign capital investment in infrastructure and the productive sectors.
To effectively mobilise the resources of overseas based Guyanese for development.
To redefine the role of government by reducing its interference in the economy and redirect its activity towards the functions of facilitator.
To institutionalise the formation of a social partnership with organized labour and private sector employers to generate policies that ensure that labour, capital, raw materials and ancillary inputs such as energy are modernised and made more competitive.
To create quality jobs, especially for young persons.
To make strategic use of our natural resource base in a sustainable and environmentally responsible manner.
To develop a thriving micro – enterprise and small business sector that is fully integrated into the economy.
To improve the efficiency of support infrastructure such as transportation systems and government services.
STRATEGIES FOR ACHIEVING MACRO ECONOMIC OBJECTIVES
The legislative programme of the PNC Reform administration will include debate of
the National Development Strategy and adaptation of its more appropriate recommendations. Amendments to insolvency legislation to provide a better framework for resuscitating ailing enterprises, amendments to existing company legislation to provide fully for the special needs of “small businesses” and “micro-enterprises”
and new copyright and patenting legislation will also be introduced.
The PNC Reform government will establish new institutions to support the attainment
of major Macro-Economic Objectives. We will establish a National Productivity Council with membership drawn from the Private Sector, Public Sector, Trade Unions, and the University of Guyana. The objective of the National Productivity Council will be to recommend and devise strategies to achieve greater efficiency and competitiveness
in the Guyana economy. We will establish a modern Guyana Investment Bureau to replace Go-Invest as an Executive Agency with one-stop capability and modern information capability, and a Development Bank will be an essential institution in the reform of our economy. It will serve as a catalyst for specialised development projects
as well as support development loans to “small businesses” and “micro-enterprises”.
It is the intention of the PNC Reform government to pursue a prudent fiscal policy.
A reform of the tax system will be informed by policies of reasonableness, equity, transparency and efficiency in tax administration. In the light of changes in the global policy environment, we expect import duty rates to decline. We will rationalise the current Consumption Tax regime and replace it with a Value Added Tax, if feasible.
Our government will ensure that this tax will not affect basic items and non-luxury household goods. One of the priorities of the new government will be the creation of
a Ministry concerned with Science and Technology matters which will be tasked with establishing a national programme in information technology. This programme will
include expansion and popularising of Internet access in personal and business transactions, skills training programmes in the public and private sector.
It is the policy of the PNC Reform that commercial activity is best left to the Private Sector. Our policy will also seek to secure the widest possible resident and overseas Guyanese participation in privatised companies. Where appropriate, private interests bidding for these companies will be influenced to offer shares to employees or the general public through General Share Ownership Plans.
The PNC Reform will privatise ALL state owned media.
A NEW GUYANA ECONOMY
GUYANA 21 is the conceptualisation and construction of the basic physical infrastructure necessary for sustainable economic growth in Guyana. It consists of
eight bridges and causeways, ten highways, a deep-water harbour, a new modern international airport, an export processing zone (EPZ) in the Essequibo delta, a
300-mile highway to Brazil and a 280-mile highway to La Horqueta in Venezuela.
The sixteen projects which will be financed entirely by private financial resources
will bring millions of dollars in investment into Guyana, create thousands of jobs for Guyanese and stimulate spin-off growth in every sector.
When completed, the GUYANA 21 programme will turn Guyana into a major transhipment hub, an enabling environment which will attract significant additional
foreign direct investment, technology and human resource capital for Guyana’s sustainable economic growth. The implementation of GUYANA 21 will also boost traditional sectors by opening large new areas of Guyana for agriculture, mining,
forestry, fishing and eco-tourism.
The installation of new communication facilities to power the information needs of
the various components of GUYANA 21, will make Guyana an the ideal place to site information technology support industries such as offshore data processing services, tele-information services, and data management outsourcing. The export-processing
zone will stimulate the development of an entirely new brand of entrepreneur in
Guyana. New business and financing services will be generated and new transport, catering and personnel mobilisation enterprises will be facilitated. We will exploit its enormous potential in water-based industries including challenges in hydro energy, aquaculture, drinking water, and water-based recreation.
Establishing a vibrant tourist industry will form an important part of the PNC
Reform’s initiative to diversify the economy through the development of supporting
service based industries. We recognise the world-renowned, intrinsic quality of our hospitality and propose that this attribute together with the country’s cultural diversity and many physical attractions will be the basis of its tourism development plan. Tourism will be an important component of the PNC Reform’s thrust to create quality jobs.
In the context of its goal to spur both individual and corporate private initiative,
government will limit its role to that of facilitator of investment in tourist plant and attractions, and a partner with the private sector in cost effective promotion of the tourism product and improved international air services.
PNC Reform is committed to the modernisation and vibrant survival of the sugar
industry and will proceed in a constructive and consultative manner in dealing with
this vital sector. The PNC Reform will commission a broad based review of the
existing studies to determine the range of options available for the future of the sugar industry. We will involve all the appropriate social and economic partners including the unions represented in the industry and the communities directly affected by its welfare development in deriving a viable and consensual programme for the industry.
The PNC Reform recognises the rice industry not only as the economic bed-rock of
rural Guyana, but also as an industry whose vibrancy is pivotal to the well-being of
the nation as a whole. The PNC Reform believes Rice can resume its significant role.
On assuming office, the PNC Reform government will act to resuscitate the rice
industry and place it on a secure growth path for the future. This will involve a
planned, holistic approach which will include among others, the following initiatives:
Introduction of mechanisms to refinance existing commercial debt of farmers and millers to significantly reduce their current debt obligations.
Establishment of a window in the Guyana Development Bank to offer pre-crop financing to growers, and trade financing to exporters in co-lending schemes with commercial banks at concessionary rates of interest.
Introduction of a crop insurance scheme to protect farmers partially against losses due to natural disasters.
Set up a Rice Development Council to include all stakeholders.
Implement a programme to aggressively market Guyana’s rice and
Initiate research and offer encouragement to private sector manufacturers,
for the down-stream use of rice in food manufacturing using improved and patented technology already existing in Guyana.
Encourage a link between rice cultivation and aquaculture based on the utilisation of the by-products of the rice industry.
The broad strategy in this sector will include:
A project to structure a sustainable export marketing programme to the tourist markets, expatriate Guyanese and exotic tropical fruit and vegetable consumers in North America and Europe and a small farmer pre-crop financing scheme in the proposed Guyana Development Bank.
In addition to our initiatives on development financing, insolvency legislation and the Export Promotion Zone, we will establish a Manufacturing Protocol. This instrument
will be developed following full consultation with the business community and designed
to program the reorganisation of manufacturing in Guyana to cope with modern
standards of competitiveness.
In addition to resuming our successful encouragement of large-scale investors such as Omai, the PNC Reform recognises its obligations to the important traditional artisanal
and small-scale miners. We will move quickly to protect their legal status and to enable them to access appropriate financing for their operations. To give a boost to the gold and diamond industries, fuel distribution systems will be significantly improved to emphasize the greater carrying capacity of the water and land transport.
The contribution of the bauxite industry to development will be related to our strategy of raising production and achieving greater diversification within the sub-sector.
To realize the first part of our strategy emphasis will be placed on attracting multi-nationals to develop new large-scale metallurgical bauxite operations which
are consistent with their modus operandi and necessary for their economic operation.
We regard the resuscitation of the industry and the communities dependent upon it
as a high priority and a moral duty.
A holistic Forestry Sector Plan will focus on building Value Added Timber Industries.
The objective will be to increase revenue and exports from timber operations by
assisting them to enter into and maximize down stream value-added production.
This will involve, revisiting banking practices, debt guarantee mechanisms and other options to facilitate access to working capital at commercial rates, and ensuring
access to a wide international market for our exportable timber products. Priority
will be given to modernizing and expanding kiln drying facilities, and assisting in the arrangement of joint-venture partnerships with foreign timber manufacturers and
HUMAN RESOURCE DEVELOPMENT
The Human Resource Development programme in Guyana will be visualised and
managed as a vital part of the overall economic programme and treated as the human resource aspect of that programme. Under the PNC Reform, it will Operate under clear and quantifiable standards of performance and clear standards of proficiency and competency.
Develop meaningful standards of accountability for the major stakeholders including teachers and administrators.
We are convinced that the enhancement of human capital lies at the heart of the economic vision articulated in our agenda.
Our education reform programmes will include:
1. Enhancement of the career and salary structure of the teaching profession including special incentives and new programmes for teacher recognition.
2. Modernising the Instructional Technology in literacy and Numeracy.
3. Popularising Science and the New Technologies.
4. Strengthening the Technology Transfer/Research Infrastructure
5. Strengthening the capacity in technical and vocational training.
6. Strengthening Programmes in special education and support for the disabled.
7. Reorganising of Professional Training and Development.
8. Providing Education to Special Needs Groups including out-of-school youth.
9. Enhancing physical education, sports, and co-curricula activity.
10. Reforming the Inspectorate and Supervisory system.
11. Revisiting the onerous fee-paying structures for students in higher education.
12. Re-establishing National Service in a modern, revised form that eliminates its compulsory aspect as an important institution for importing skills and promoting
tolerance and understanding among our young people.
Access to an adequate and effective healthcare system is another vial aspect of
Social Transformation. PNC Reform Government will return to its strategies of free
basic healthcare for all Guyanese and the location of their communities. We will
rebuild a healthcare system that is caring and professional, emphasising both preventative and curative health policies.
Our programme will include:
Increasing the number and quality of all categories of healthcare workers by placing more emphasis on staff training and skill upgrading and on improving remuneration and other conditions of work in the medical profession.
Placing emphasis on preventative healthcare by allocating more government resources to public education, sanitation issues and school feeding programmes.
Enhancing the nutritional status of children and adults through appropriate educational and community based programmes.
Developing inter-sectoral responses to national medical crises such as AIDS, infant mortality, malaria outbreaks and substance abuse.
Reforming the management of the regional health care systems
and improving the coordination between the Ministry responsible for Health and
Local Government institutions.
Enacting new health legislation in areas such as food storage and handling, environment and sanitation to make all legislation relevant to current situations and trends.
The PNC Reform puts a high value on the interests and welfare of the hinterland communities and in particular, the concerns of the Amerindian communities.
The PNC Reform will make innovative ministerial arrangements to ensure the multi sectoral treatment of Amerindian and hinterland development issues. The response of government to hinterland problems, and in particular land titles will be of highest priority.
We will also create a non-partisan Amerindian Development Council with non-partisan capacity to deal with Amerindian issues. The indigenous land rights of the hinterland communities will be given recognition in the dealing with the land use and land allocation in the hinterland.
The Amerindian Development Council will be consulted and involved in all development projects which affect their welfare and environmental conditions.
PNC Reform will re-establish the system of periodic Conferences with Amerindian leaders to examine, discuss and resolve Amerindian concerns in an equitable and consensual way.
CONCERNS OF YOUTH
The most obvious beneficiaries of our programme of investment, growth and job
creation will be our young people. For them more than any other segment of our
society, the current era of joblessness and hopelessness has been particularly
painful. New jobs and opportunities for entrepreneurship at all levels will restore
their sense of hope and commitment to this country. The PNC Reform believes
that social transformation also includes as an important element the provision of opportunity for participation in sport, and cultural and recreational activity. These
activities not only enrich the lives of our young people but also provide support
for the inculcation of appropriate values of social concern, self-discipline and
Our programme in cultural development will include the revitalisation of the national festivals including Guyfesta, Sports and recreation will be on the front burner of government concerns. The reestablishment of vibrant sports associations,
Inter-School Sports competitions, and an emphasis on the projection of Guyana
once again be successful in a wide range of sporting activities. As a matter of
priority, that a National Youth Policy is tabled in Parliament after broad-based consultation with young people across the country.
Social and economic transformation includes as an essential base, progress in the resolution of issues concerned with the rights and status of women. Many of our programmes of investment and job creation will have particular scope for the enhancement of the economic status of women. The PNC has always had a proud
record of promoting, through legislative and other means, the participation and
welfare of Guyanese women. The PNC Reform will continue in this tradition by fully complying with all constitutional and international provisions and protocols that
speak to gender issues including:
Continuing the work towards ending discrimination based on gender.
Introducing measures and developing attitudes that will reduce sexual harassment and other forms of sexual victimisation.
Removing the remaining barriers to the promotion and mobility of women in the workplace.
Urgent study and remediation of factors causing the underachievement of males.
HOUSING AND COMMUNITY
The PNC Reform is concerned that the sense of “community”, which has
traditionally pervaded Guyanese society, is steadily being eroded. The government
will commission research and consultation to derive a comprehensive, practical and affordable Human Development Programme. The PNC Reform believes that it will be
an obligation of government to institute and implement schemes for the development
of housing for lower and middle-income families. This traditional PNC policy position
will replace the arbitrary award of house lots with the creation of viable communities.
THE FOREIGN SERVICE AND THE GLOBAL ENVIRONMENT
Part of our reform package must be an enhancement of our capacity to understand
and react to the global environment and marketplace. Since the change of government
in 1992, Guyana’s international image has been significantly tarnished; its professional Foreign Service officer corps has been severely depleted; and the formulation and articulation of the country’s foreign policy have become reactive and ad hoc.
The absence of a structured frontiers policy has contributed to a perception of weakness by our neighbours Suriname and Venezuela which both countries have exploited to Guyana’s economic detriment. Furthermore, the policies and actions of the Guyana Foreign Ministry have failed to address the emergence and rapidly increasing influence
of globalisation, the diverse aspects of global governance, and the marked expansion in the infrastructure and institutions of global activity. We will move quickly to establish our capacity of our Foreign Service including such measures as:
The establishment of strategic global repositioning, the process of placing the country in the global economy and world affairs, Guyana’s new foreign policy thrust should therefore include the following:
The establishment of a National Border Commission which along with a specialist unit in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and a Parliamentary Committee on International Relations will have the responsibility of developing a national frontiers policy and the monitoring of border developments.
The development of a high quality Foreign Service Officer corps through restructuring of the Foreign Service Institute with the capacity to deliver a variety of programmes.
GUYANA IN THE CARIBBEAN COMMUNITY
The PNC Reform government recognises the importance of the establishment and efficient operation of the CARICOM Single Market Economy to the development of
the region and its positioning in the global economy. The PNC Reform will therefore actively promote the importance of the Community and ensure that it meets its obligations.
When we launched our bold initiatives in the Economic Reform Programme in my previous administration, we understood then that these were but the preliminary and
initial steps in a raft of changes and reforms necessary to bring Guyana to a path of self-sustaining growth. We acknowledged that there was need for continued and sustained investment in new sectors and expansion and reorganisation of the old.
We recognised then that many key institutions were in need of massive and comprehensive reorganisation. It has been apparent that since the ERP, we have
been governed by people who are unwilling or perhaps incapable of appreciating that
the initiatives were not a completed work and were not in themselves the basis upon which we could rest or become complacent. The work of comprehensive
reorganisation of our economy and society therefore remains to be done.
The PNC Reform is convinced beyond doubt that our emphases on human
development, technology reform and modern and responsive governance are the
keys to a successful turn around of Guyana. It will require massive and sustained
effort. The reforms will however generate linkages and synergy will be created as
they take root.
We do not expect to do it alone. We expect to do these remarkable things,
achieve these dramatic reforms and unprecedented growth with the support of all
reform minded Guyanese.
Guyana has the human resource potential, all that is needed is the will and the
courage to change old habits and embrace the future of Guyana as we reform our country.
We will regard the ideas, work, and support of all Guyanese of goodwill as elements crucial to the success of our policies and programmes and a major investment in our country’s development.
We offer a vision of the future that provides a real prospect of Guyana developing in
ways and at rates of which we have only dreamed in the past. That vision is now
possible under honest, competent, imaginative, intelligent government. We are
confident that our Agenda for Development is a sound basis for realising the long
deferred hopes of the Guyanese people for conditions of life that are comfortable,
secure, prosperous – and sustainable.
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