Georgetown, Guyana – (August 31, 2015) The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the British High Commission, Georgetown; have together offered to fully finance the Ministry of Social Cohesion’s National Roundtable, scheduled to be held on Thursday, September 3 at the Arthur Chung Convention Centre.  
This disclosure was made today by Minister of Social Cohesion, Amna Ally, at a press conference at the Ministry of the Presidency. The media briefing was called to provide an update and introduce the partners and facilitators for the Roundtable.
The Roundtable will provide the forum for discussions to take place among national stakeholders so that the Ministry’s five year strategic action plan can be crafted.  
Present at the press briefing were the British High Commissioner to Guyana, His Excellency Greg Quinn; international facilitator for the Roundtable, Mr. Chris Speis; local facilitator, Mr. Lawrence Latchmansingh and Programme Analyst on Governance and Poverty at the UNDP, Mr. Trevor Benn.
In expressing her gratitude to the two organisations for their gesture, Minister Amna Ally said that while the road to national unity is certainly not an easy one, partnerships like these tend to assist in supporting the crossing of those hurdles.
“This ministry has a challenging role, but we believe that with the support of stakeholders, the Guyanese people [and]our international stakeholders, we are going to achieve the answer to this question of bridging the gaps. This Roundtable is fully financed by the UNDP and the British High Commission in Guyana and I want to publicly state our gratitude because we believe that this is a very, very important takeoff point for this Ministry,” she said.
Minister Ally said to media operatives that while the figure is not immediately at her disposal for disclosure, the sponsorship is a substantial one and will take care of all expenses falling under the purview of the Roundtable.  
In the meantime, British High Commissioner to Guyana, Greg Quinn, in expressing his pleasure in being able to facilitate the sponsorship of the event; underscored the need for cohesion united country, noting that it is time that all Guyanese take up the mantle of ensuring that social cohesion pervades the Guyanese society.
Mr. Quinn noted that this responsibility must be facilitated through a space for open and honest discussions. It was on this note that he praised the Ministry for the National Roundtable Initiative, as it provides the needed space for these types of discussions to be fostered.
“The importance of social cohesion must be stressed. It is a long road and a difficult one but the fundamental takeaway is that this is not just for the Minister of the Ministry. This is for everybody to take responsibility for and to be a part of. Everyone has a responsibility to ensure social cohesion. What we have to do is to ensure that they have the space to share; where they will be willing to say what they want to say,” the British High Commissioner said.  
Mr. Chris Speis, who had worked for a number of years with the United Nations here in Guyana, to promote social cohesion, congratulated the Government of Guyana on setting up such a Ministry.
“Many countries do not have these spaces to talk but the Guyanese are leading the way by literally bringing people around a Roundtable and I am really excited about this.  My role is basically to support and confirm that Guyanese can do this,” Speis said.
He also underscored the need for members of the media in Guyana to play their part in ensuring that in writing their stories, they do not inflame and aid in disunity, among the citizens.
“The media is a very important partner. M-E-D-I-A, are the first five letters of the word “Mediation.” You have to ask yourself if what you write, if it’s going to contribute towards mediation or is it going to inflame this process? The media is a very important partner to this process and I would like to encourage the media to write carefully and to report in such a way that support these efforts of ensuring cohesion in this country,” the international facilitator shared.
In the lead up to the Roundtable, regional consultations and preparatory meetings were carried out by the Ministry, where stakeholders were given the chance to share their opinions on how best the Ministry’s mandate can be achieved.
These suggestions were noted and will be presented at the Roundtable for discussion and analysis, after which a five year Strategic plan for the Ministry of Social Cohesion will be drafted. According to Minister Ally, all solutions that are immediately implementable will be put into action as soon as the document is finalised.  
The event will open on Thursday with cultural presentations, an address by President David Granger, as well as remarks from Sir Shridath Ramphal, representatives from the Commonwealth, the UNDP and the British High Commission.
More than 50 local organisations, including inter religious bodies, Human Rights organisations, cultural groups, the Private Sector, representatives from all 10 regions, and civil society are expected to take part in the Roundtable.

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