New Year Address To the Nation By Mr. Robert H. O. Corbin, MP Leader of the People’s National Congress Reform & Leader of the Opposition Monday, January 1, 2007

Fellow Guyanese!

Happy New Year!

May the year ahead bring positive change to the lives of all Guyanese and may the Almighty grant this dear land of ours those elusive virtues of social stability and economic progress. May the governance of our country be informed by the qualities of wisdom and a sense of caring by those whose task it is to administer the State. These are my heartfelt and fervent New Year wishes for our country.

Fellow Guyanese!

Stability, national cohesiveness and a collective sense of purpose and direction are the greatest assets in our quest to take our country forward. These comprise the firm and critical foundation that must lie at the base of our efforts to build this nation. These are the pillars upon which the edifice of social and economic progress must be built.

At the dawn of yet another New Year these pillars remain as elusive as ever. Indeed, the year that we have just left behind has served as a reminder of the absence of that foundation and of the state of drift in which our country finds itself. Beneath the thin layer of window dressing that passes for normalcy lie tensions, uncertainties and a sense of anxiety as to where the winds of fortune will take us next.

Our people have long ceased to be distracted by frequent pronouncements about progress and development. Quite simply, they are far too preoccupied with the reality of their own difficult circumstances. Those circumstances make a mockery of the ceaseless declarations that Guyana is “going places’. The crisis that is afflicting our country cannot be wished away by colourful propaganda and elaborate “spin”. It is real for all to see.

Every Guyanese is aware that poverty and hard times persist, that crime and corruption have become uncontrollable cancers and that, as a people, we are divided. Every Guyanese is aware of the relentless flight of skills from our country and of the sense of frustration among our young people who cannot satisfy their aspirations. Every Guyanese is aware of that sense of apprehension about what lies ahead for our country. These concerns and anxieties cannot be glossed over by hollow-sounding pronouncements about progress. They hang like the proverbial sword of Damocles over our heads. As the late, great musical genius Bob Marley put it - “he, who feels it, knows it”. The façade of progress which the Government is seeking so desperately to sustain continues to be exposed for what it is – a mere chimera.

Far from being my wish to sound like a harbinger of doom on this the first day of the New Year, I seek only to proffer the stark truth, the reality that all of us must face lest we are consumed by our difficulties.

The question is, can we turn our fortunes around? Do we have the will, the courage and the capacity to transform our country? There is no question in the collective mind of the People’s National Congress Reform that we can. We are a people of resilience, a people of fortitude. We are used to confronting and overcoming adversity. And the New Year must bring with it a fresh sense of hope and a renewed resolve that, together, we will turn that corner. All of us must direct our energies towards the achievement of that goal in the year that lies ahead of us.

But the transformation which we seek will require more than those collective virtues. Those who govern this country must awaken to the reality of our circumstances. They must seek to acquire the wisdom and insight that are necessary to make the decisions that matter. They must cease burying their heads in the sand as our country drifts aimlessly on a highway to nowhere.

Fellow Guyanese!

This deeply troubled country of ours simply cannot afford the luxury of a government that makes noises about national unity, but appears to be concerned about the well-being of only a section of the society. We cannot afford the luxury of a government that appears unsure as to how to respond to the formidable challenges that confront our country. We cannot afford the luxury of a government that appears unable to make a distinction between debt write-offs, and bilateral and multilateral assistance, on the one hand and real production-driven development, on the other. We cannot afford a political Administration that continues to frustrate and impoverish the nation’s public servants, a course of action that, in effect, weakens the very foundations of our country. Nor, Fellow Guyanese, can we afford a Government that includes functionaries who labour under the misapprehension that vacuous arrogance is an appropriate substitute for competence and informed decision-making. Guyana cannot and will not move forward if our people remain divided and if the Government simply shuts out those voices that it does not wish to hear.

Fellow Guyanese!

The People’s National Congress Reform believes that 2007 must mark a decisive shift towards genuine national unity, for it is this that marks the start of the journey towards the goal of development. We believe that Government must strip itself of its pretences and its inward-looking political posture and listen to the voices of the people. And on this the first day of the New Year, we wish to urge upon the Jagdeo Administration the abandonment of the notion that it alone can bring progress to this troubled country of ours.

For our part, we in the People’s National Congress Reform are convinced that the healing of divisions must come first. That is why we pledge to rededicate our energies to that healing process, which alone can set us on the road to progress. And, as I did following the General Elections of August 2006, I am once again signaling our commitment to working with all those who share our ideal of a better Guyana. I am once again calling for a genuine inclusiveness in the process of building this nation that embraces all the stakeholders in our society. The prevailing exclusionary approach to governing Guyana will bring us nothing, but disappointment and disaster.

Fellow Guyanese!

I believe that it is fitting at this time that the People’s National Congress Reform provides its members and supporters with renewed expressions of our concern for issues that affect their lives and the lives of all of the people of this country. In the days, weeks and months ahead you will see greater evidence of a vigorous and constructive agenda in our approach to tackling our responsibilities with respect to representation of your issues and concerns. You will see a political Party at work in the National Assembly and, more importantly, among the people of this country, at all levels, particularly the Regional Democratic Councils, fighting to help achieve that critical shift in direction that this country so badly needs. For the sake of our country, for the sake of our young people and for the sake of our very survival, it has to be done. And the People’s National Congress Reform will do what is required of it to bring about that transformation.

We are fully aware of the growing frustration and lack of confidence in the present judicial system. We intend to work assiduously to ensure that our justice system works for all our citizens. Equally, we intend to also focus our efforts in ensuring the equitable treatment of all citizens and communities with respect to the distribution of the State’s resources.

Fellow Guyanese!

In the year ahead we intend to anchor ourselves even more firmly to the root of this country, to work among the people and to collaborate with those stakeholders who share the hope of real progress and real development. That is my Party’s New Year promise.

May God grant us the wisdom to see the virtues in collective effort and the commitment to pursue with vigour and determination that objective of working together. For us as a country there is simply no other choice.

Happy New Year to all Guyanese and May God Bless Guyana!

People’s National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia
Georgetown, Guyana
January 1, 2007