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Posted November 2010 - Issue No. 82 - Back to Embassy page
Previous Guyana Diaries are available here.
Against the backdrop of a global outlook characterised by uncertainty, with the developed economies still seeking the delicate balance between policies aimed at stimulating output and measures required to contain indebtedness and achieve fiscal sustainability, Guyana’s economy recorded real growth of 2.8 percent in the first half of 2010.
While there was improved performance in certain aspects such as in construction, gold, forestry and education, others showed a decline. Included in the latter are sugar, due to the extended dry conditions, and bauxite.
Non-sugar gross domestic product expanded by 3.1 percent and, as a result, overall growth for the year is now projected at 2.9 percent and non-sugar growth at 2.4 percent.
The robust performance of the rice industry in 2009, resulted in a production of 359,789 tonnes; hence a more judicious target of 343,373 tonnes was set for 2010. Timely government interventions mainly through assistance given to farmers resulted in higher acreages sown than initially projected, increased yields of paddy as a result of the sharing of improved farming practices with farmers which included better management of water resources and farm practices, resulted in a 2010 first crop performance of 168,267 tonnes which was 4.6 percent better than first crop 2009.
The “other crops” industry grew by 1.5 percent in the first half of the year. Forestry recorded strong growth of 11.8 percent, due to a mixture of market, policy and environmental conditions and, as a result, the comparative performance for the second half, relative to last year will be at a more moderate level as harvesters are expected to conclude operations much earlier in the second half.
For 2010, the bauxite industry was projected to grow by 5.7 percent, gold declaration by 4 percent and diamond declaration by 4.2 percent, an overall 4.2 percent projected growth in value-added for the mining and quarrying industry. The half year performance shows an opposite trend – a decline of 4.1 percent in value-added over half year 2009. The effects of developments in the subsectors have led to the overall industry showing a reversal in growth to a revised 2.8 percent decline.
The manufacturing industry grew by 1.5 percent at the half year, the electricity and water service industry by 3.6 percent, and construction output expanded by 9.5 percent in the first half of the year, transportation and storage industry showed a strong first half performance of 7.1 percent, information and communication industry grew by 5.7 percent, education services grew by 1.8 percent, and health services grew by 6.8 percent as a result of the expansion of government health personnel and services.
Guyana has improved its business environment in the past year, thereby attaining a business ranking of 100 out of 183 countries. This is according to the eighth in a series of annual reports prepared by the World Bank and the International Finance Corporation.
Doing Business 2011: Making a Difference for Entrepreneurs analyses regulations that apply to an economy’s businesses during their life cycle, including start-up and operations, trading across borders, paying taxes and closing business.
The report, vindicates the many efforts that have made by the Guyana government to streamline the state’s mechanisms in its strategies at attracting especially international business and commerce.
The strategies implemented include (i) the digitizing of company records that speeds up the process of searching company names and “reserving a name”; (ii) the enhancement of access to credit by establishing a regulatory framework that allows the licensing of private credit bureaus, giving borrowers the right to inspect their data; (iii) improvements to Guyana’s risk profiling system for customs inspections of ships, and (iv) “speed up trade”.
Other measures installed within recent times aimed at a modern conduct of business climate include the application of a flat registration fee for all companies, regardless of their capital sum, the removal of duty payable on incorporation, the streamlining of registration as it pertains to the tax authorities with the introduction of a single tax identification number that suffices for corporate, value added, and labour taxes.
Over 160 Toshaos from across Guyana gathered at the Guyana International Conference Centre, Liliendaal from October 25 to 29 to discuss the further development of Amerindian communities with President Bharrat Jagdeo and cabinet members under the theme “Advancing Development in a Low Carbon Environment”.
The conference was truly reflective of participatory democracy, as Amerindian leaders engaged the president in one-on-one discussions regarding their communities’ achievements and possible solutions for the challenges they face.
The president outlined some of the government’s interventions as it relates to the development of Amerindians, which he said are aimed at changing the philosophy and the nation’s perspective to indigenous people’s culture and their enormous contribution to society and their place in national development.
During the conference land titles and or extensions were presented to 17 communities including Itabac, Mashabo, Bethany, St. Monica, Capoey, Kanapang, Kurutuku and Arukamai. These communities are being transformed through greater access to education and healthcare. The sum of G$2 billion has been set aside for road construction in the Amerindian communities in Regions 1, 8, 9 and 10 even as they are expanding and diversifying agriculture.
Indigenous communities will benefit further with US$8 million from the first tranche of US$30 million into the Guyana REDD+ Investment Fund (GRIF). US$4 million will be used to accelerate the demarcation process while the remainder will be used to fund community development projects and to provide every Amerindian household with a solar panel.
Amerindian leaders also renewed their support for the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) by endorsing a resolution on Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+).
The resolution affirms that Amerindian communities are in full support of REDD+; that the NTC is the sole authority to represent Amerindian interests to the Government of Guyana; and the international community must consult the council and the government of Guyana on issues concerning Amerindian villages.
Out of the 171 Amerindian representatives at the meeting, 166 signed the Resolution. The REDD+ Resolution highlighted that the LCDS is a unique and progressive model to address the impact of climate change and further Guyana’s development.
The fifth batch consisting of 80 teachers on October 28 graduated after successfully completing the Education Ministry’s Education Management Certificate Programme.
The eighteen-month programme saw teachers from secondary schools around Georgetown participating in practicals, documentations, writing reports, an end of module assignment, and an examination.
The courses included personnel management, self development for education managers, principles of education management, monitoring school effectiveness, financial management, educational leadership, governance of schools, and managing the curriculum and resources in schools.
The programme aims to equip teachers to better manage schools and provide the adequate leadership that will ensure high success rates in all secondary schools.
Guyana was showcased among 240 countries and organisations worldwide at the World Expo hosted in Shanghai, China, this year.
Guyana’s booth at the expo attracted considerable interest with its captivating display of the country’s unique offerings. The country’s participation was seen as a great opportunity to showcase its offerings to the world and to further strengthen bilateral ties between Guyana and China.
Guyana’s booth was crafted under the theme, “One People, One Nation, One Destiny”, by Guyanese designer John Fernandes with the guidance of the Ministry of Tourism Industry and Commerce. This was excellently portrayed with a tunnel showcasing the distinctive history of Guyana’s six races.
The booth was divided into three sections: The Amazon Adventure, featuring Guyana’s rich biodiversity and landscapes; Better City, Better Life; featuring historical buildings and other hotspots in Georgetown; and Industries driving the economy such as agriculture, mining and fishing.
Replicas of Amerindian huts and canoes showcasing the lifestyle of the Indigenous people were also displayed along with products of Guyana such as Indi garam masala and curry powder, Demerara Gold sugar, and a variety of El Dorado rums.
Much interest was generated by Guyana’s Low Carbon Development Strategy, information about which was highlighted at the exhibition.
Guyana gained immense attention and popularity as China Central Television, the Expo’s daily newspaper and the Shanghai Morning Post newspaper all carried features of the country and its exhibits.
The Expo began on May and concluded on October 31.
The Government of Guyana in an effort to strengthen greater ties and forge relations with countries in the Middle East will be establishing an embassy in the State of Kuwait, Minister of Foreign Affairs Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett told media operatives on October 25 at a briefing today at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Minister Rodrigues-Birkett said that the initiative stemmed from a visit by President Bharrat Jagdeo to Kuwait in January this year, during which two bilateral agreements were signed. These included the encouragement and reciprocal protection of investment and the cultural and artistic cooperation agreements.
“In light of all these developments and in keeping with our policy to improve trade relations with non-traditional partners I am pleased to announce that the Government has taken the decision to establish an embassy in Kuwait,” she stated.
The necessary arrangements are currently being administered for the appointment of an ambassador and the establishment of the embassy.
According to the Foreign Affairs Minister, Government is confident that with the establishment of the embassy, bilateral relations with Kuwait and other countries in the Middle East will be further strengthened.
The relationship between Guyana and Kuwait strengthened to the extent that Kuwait’s Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Mohammed Al Ahmed Al-Jaber Al Sabah paid a visit to Guyana on July 19.
The visit paved the way for several other agreements to be signed between the two governments. These included a bilateral trade agreement, one for a technical and economic cooperation; another for the establishment of a joint commission for cooperation between Kuwait and Guyana; and an air services agreement.
The Prime Minister was accompanied by a high-level delegation including several members of the private sector in Kuwait.
Guyana and Kuwait established diplomatic relations on August 17, 1995.
The Ministry of Health on October 22 was presented with 20 large containers of medical equipment and supplies from the United States Military’s Continuing Promise 2010 mission. The supplies were brought by the USS Iwo Jima, docked near New Amsterdam. The Military Tropical Medicine team on board has been partnering with the Health Ministry and this has resulted in assessments being carried out, focused on enhancing operational stability in providing medical care and building partnerships with the regional health directors.
The US military medical personnel has been able to work with Guyanese medical professionals from the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation, Mabaruma Hospital and other facilities in various parts of Guyana.
The Continuing Promise 2010 is a humanitarian mission that delivers medical, engineering and veterinary support services. This humanitarian mission demonstrates the partnership between Guyana and the United States of America in jointly addressing challenges, exchanging expertise, and furthering strategic cooperation.
President Bharrat Jagdeo at a press conference on October 22 said that Guyana was ready to take over the chairmanship of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) on November 26. The President said that the profile of Guyana will be very high, as it the first time that a small country like Guyana will be chairing UNASUR, adding that very few countries have had the opportunity to chair UNASUR, prior to Guyana.
He stated that there have been some attempts to disrupt the constitutional order in Ecuador, which currently hold the chairmanship of UNASUR.
He added that “there are many other situations of conflicts across South America, as such Guyana would be expected to play a very active role in ensuring that there is no disruption to constitutional order in our hemisphere and also ensuring that we push an aggressive social and developmental agenda.”
Earlier that day, Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino paid a courtesy call on President Jagdeo to discuss handing over of the rotating chairmanship and coordinate the activities of UNASUR.
UNASUR focuses on strengthening relations among South American nations and places emphasis on defence policies, economic development, energy integration, environmental protection, infrastructural development, political dialogue and social cohesion.
Minister Patino later told the media that Guyana has a major role to play in implementing UNASUR’s plans.
The Walter Roth Museum of Anthropology, which is under the purview of the Ministry of Culture Youth and Sport, now has two research specialists from overseas attached to it. They will be carrying out various researches, as well as assisting the museum with its programme development.
The specialists, provided by the Commonwealth Association of Museums are Sara Albuquerque from Portugal and Renee Homeiak from Canada.
Albuquerque will be studying the work of Everard Im Thurn, his life and botanical collection, as he was one of Guyana’s first prominent anthropologists. She visited various sites including Iwokrama, Surama and Kabakaburi and is observing the communities where Im Thurn collected artifacts (now in Britain) and to get a modern perspective on the cross cultural aspects of his work.
She will also be giving lectures to interested Guyanese researchers and students on the artifacts, as studies show that the majority came from the Makushis and Arawaks.
Homiak will be assisting the museum with its programme development, as she is proficient in museum management and curatorship, including curatorial research methods, exhibition development, care of collections, archival management and gallery administration, among other related disciplines.
She will also be conducting a two-day workshop for operatives attached to all museums in the country, to strengthen their capacity in museum management and development.
After six nights of exhibiting local goods and services available in Guyana, patrons and exhibitors have described GuyExpo 2010, the largest trade fair in the Caribbean, as the biggest and best since its commencement.
Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce Manniram Prashad noted that over 120,000 people visited the exhibition during the fair. He emphasised that there was great overseas participation as GuyExpo has become a calendar event.
The success of the exposition which saw the participation of approximately 300 exhibitors was based on proper planning, organising and execution.
He noted that the event was in favour of small businesses which took the opportunity to showcase the high quality of products including craft that they produce locally. Other established enterprises particularly in the furniture sector benefited greatly.
“Businesses have reported good sales; for instance one company reported that it sold 10 complete kitchen sets in two days and that has a value of G$20 million,” Minister Prashad stated.
The World Bank on October 14 approved a US$4.2 million credit to advance the quality of teacher education in Guyana. The Improving Teacher Education Project will work in partnership with the Education Ministry to support the Cyril Potter College of Education (CPCE) and the University of Guyana’s (UG) School of Education and Humanities to improve the delivery of quality teacher education.
The funding provided has a 10-year grace period and a final maturity of 20 years.
The project is in keeping with the government’s Education Strategic Plan 2008-2013 which aims at increasing the number of trained teachers, ensuring quality improvement in education and supports one of the primary goals of reaching at least 70 percent of teachers trained by 2013, while raising the standards of teacher-education programmes.
The project has three components one of which is improving the quality and efficiency of teacher education delivery which will support the implementation of the Associate Degree in Education and the Bachelor of Education.
This will be accomplished by developing appropriate courses and teacher-educator assessment tools and practices; and integrating information and communication technologies in the teaching and learning process in both in-service and distance education programmes.
The second component is building human resources and technical capacity for more effective teaching and learning by improving the quality of teacher-educators and strengthening management at CPCE and UG’s School of Education and Humanities.
The third component encompasses communications, project management and monitoring and evaluation to inform stakeholders of benefits and changes in education policy and teacher-education programmes, in addition to building capacity within the Ministry of Education for project management and monitoring and evaluation of the projects objectives and outcomes.
Minister of Human Services and Social Security Priya Manickchand on October 16 joined former Prime Minister of Canada Kim Campbell on the important panel of a conference at the John F Kennedy School of Government at the Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
The two-day conference “Closing the Gender Gap: the business case for Organizations, Politics and Society” was hosted by the Council of Women World Leaders in collaboration with the World Economic Forum and examined the relationship between gender equality and societal and economic outcomes.
The panel discussion examined specifically the benefits of political power. Minister Manickchand posited that political power matters in closing the gender gap across the world and expressed the view that political power derived from political office has tremendous benefits, one of which is to allow for the culture of a country to be shaped and changed by public policy derived from political office. She said that when that office is occupied equally by both genders, the female perspective is considered when decisions are being made. As to how to ensure there is equality in representation, the minister was resolute that quotas prescribing numbers of women in office must be provided for by legislation.
The Minister however also put forward the view that of tremendous value in closing the gender gap is political power derived from unity around a cause.
The minister noted that where women across political divides, religious views, social status and professions could collaborate and hold a common position about a specific issue that body would have power that is political in nature and cannot be ignored.
Governments have to create environments that encourage and enable women uniting around specific causes, she said. This, she offered would more than likely require proactive efforts by governments to allow the voices of women to be heard on issues.
Credits: Stabroek News, Chronicle, Mirror, Kaieteur News, GINA
Compiled and edited by Evangeline Ishmael
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