The business and economic potential of towns across Guyana’s ten administrative regions were unlocked following the recently held Local Government Elections (LGE) says President David Granger, who was at the time speaking to members of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI).
The Head of State was addressing stakeholders at the Chamber’s 126th Annual General Meeting held yesterday afternoon (March 24) at the Pegasus Hotel in Georgetown.
He also called on the private sector to ensure that efforts of development are not concentrated solely in the capital city, but spread throughout the country, noting that the democratization of local government is necessary for the planned economic take-off of Guyana’s towns and regions.
The Ministry of the Presidency quoted the President, “Guyana’s hinterland and rural landscape will be opened for orderly development. Our towns will lead this charge and in the process, create boundless business opportunities for the business community in Guyana.”
He further noted that his Government’s aim “is to modernize local government and to catapult our municipalities into the 21st century. Our objective is to catalyse the economies of our towns and communities… Tremendous opportunities for all will unfold as we boost the economies of our regions through the instrumentality of our ‘capital towns’. The challenges that present themselves will be dwarfed by the opportunities for economic growth that lie ahead.”
The Guyanese Leader described the sole dependency of citizens on Central Government as the “colonial compound mentality” which was allowed to fester for many years due to the lack of LGE.
“The elections restored the right of citizens to participate in decision-making in their municipalities and neighbourhood councils. They also renewed economic opportunities for innovation, investment and infrastructural development. The elections for our neighbourhood democratic councils and municipalities paved the way for a change in the way our towns and communities are governed. They also paved the way for a reappraisal of the contribution they can make toward creating economically powerful regions,” the President said.
There is the expectation that with the elections over, local authorities will be weaned off of Central Government “dictation, domination and dependency,” allowing for a more collaborative and forward-looking model of governance.
“The new model will … instil a ‘capital town’ mind set, which emphasizes the role of towns in moving beyond providing traditional municipal services. The new emphasis should be on promoting business, driving economic development and giving leadership to our regions. Guyana will develop only if regions are strong. Our regions must no longer be viewed as mere administrative appendages of the Central Government, the President said.
He disclosed that a ‘capital town’ will be established in every region to spearhead development by encouraging growth through “infrastructure, investment, information and communications technology and innovation.”
“Bartica will be the ‘capital town’ of Cuyuni-Mazaruni. Lethem will be the ‘capital town’ of the Rupununi. Mabaruma will be the ‘capital town’ of Barima-Waini. Mahdia will become the ‘capital town’ of Potaro-Siparuni. More suitable sites will be identified to transform the compounds into ‘capital towns’ in the coastal Demerara-Mahaica, Essequibo Islands-West Demerara and Mahaica-Berbice regions,” he revealed.
Meanwhile, Secretary of the GCCI, Mr. Nicholas Boyer acknowledged that there are regions with untpped potential, therefore the matter will be added to the GCCI’s agenda.