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Guyana celebrates 55th anniversary of political independence


Guyana celebrates 55th anniversary of political independence
Guyana President, Irfaan Ali. (FP)

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GEORGETOWN – Guyana is celebrating its 55th anniversary of political independence from Britain on Wednesday, buoyed by the prospects of an economy propelled by its growing energy sector, but acknowledging the ongoing efforts by Venezuela to claim two-thirds of the country.

President Irfaan Ali said in his first Independence Day speech that the country, with its growing petroleum industry and other lucrative productive sectors, is on the cusp of economic transformation.

“We fought for independence to give our people the quality of life of which they had been deprived,” Ali said in his address to the nation.

“If independence is to have any real meaning, it is to uplift our people from the ravages of limitations of the past, and to give them a better life with better opportunities under better circumstances.”

Ali said that education will also play a meaningful role in the future socio-economic development of the country, as Guyana moves towards becoming a knowledge-based society, capable of competing with the best worldwide.

“Free university education will be delivered, and schools’ infrastructure will be improved to provide a conducive environment for learning,” he said, adding that the manufacturing, agriculture and other sectors have been affected in the past by the high price of energy.

“Our private sector partners have rightly pointed to the adverse effects of this high price to the cost of doing business and to their capacity to market their goods abroad competitively, earning revenues in foreign exchange for the benefit of the country,” he said, promising that his administration will respond to this situation.

“We cannot be a nation that produces oil and gas, earning considerable sums from it without passing on the benefits to all sectors of our society,” he said. “The cost of electricity must be reduced for both business and household consumption.

“Therefore, Government is carefully considering mechanisms by which the cost of energy can be reduced across our society by utilising an appropriate percentage of our national earnings from oil and gas to do so,” Ali said.

He added that these mechanisms will be presented to the nation through the appropriate bodies for endorsement.

But he reiterated that at the bottom line, domestic consumers must be given relief and businesses should be rendered more competitive.