Guyana’s opposition presidential candidate, David Granger Friday night expressed concern about rapacious exploitation of primary natural resources but assured that if he wins the upcoming elections foreign investors woud have nothing to fear and the focus would be on value-added production.
“Nearly fifty years after independence, we are losing our country. People are cutting down our trees and digging holes in the ground for gold and bauxite and we are not the beneficiaries of the land which our fore-parents bequeath to us, and that has got to change. We are not going into government to sell out our country,” said Granger, a socialist oriented and unrepentant patriot.
He told more than 300 New York-based Guyanese at a fund-raising reception held at New Woodbine on Church and Bedford Avenues, Brooklyn that instead overseas-based Guyanese would be afforded opportunities to play major roles in developing the land of their birth.
“We are going into government to bring the Diaspora back to help develop our country. You want to invest in Guyana, well Guyana is open for business,” he said. He again promised that if the coalition of A Partnership for National Unity+ Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) wins the May 11, 2015 general elections a Department of Diaspora would be established to facilitate overseas-based Guyanese with “the click of a mouse” on the computer.
Granger- who is also the leader of the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) under whose government its socialist experiment was scrapped at the turn of the 1980s in favour of a market-driven economy-made it clear that foreign investors have nothing to fear. “It is not that we oppose foreign investment. We don’t oppose the Russians, we don’t oppose the Chinese, we don’t oppose the Brazilians but we want to ensure that there is Guyana for our children and grandchildren,” he said.
He lamented that foreign investors from Brazil, China, Russia and Canada have been flocking Guyana “but the Guyanese are being pushed to the periphery.” “We want you to help us to transform m Guyana because we cannot do it alone,” he appealed.
The opposition leader, however, pegged much greater involvement of Guyanese in their country’s development to improvements in the education system aimed at reducing the 6,000 annual dropouts from primary and secondary schools and 8,000 failures at the National Grade Six Assessment. “We have to master the education system if we are to take control of our resources,” he said. The coalition also plans to create agricultural and technical institutes in the 10 administrative regions and increase Internet access as part of a plan to make value added products from wood, gold and agricultural produce. Granger cited the example of the overwhelming majority of scientists at the Canadian manganese company, Reunion, in northwest Guyana being from other countries.
He feared that if the opposition does not win the elections, more Guyanese would migrate. “It struck me that we are losing our country. We in the Diaspora, we at home are actually becoming strangers in our own land and if we don’t do something about it on the 11th of May, there is going to be more of us over here than over there,” he told the gathering who braved a persistent snow to attend the event in Brooklyn, considered the heartland of Afro-Guyanese supporters who mainly support the PNCR, a major constituent of APNU.
Several persons said they would be travelling back to Guyana to vote. “Me finger gotta get dutty,” quipped a former police officer, in reference to the indelible ink into which voters’ index fingers are immersed after casting their ballots.