Georgetown, Guyana – (November 20, 2015) Minister of State, Joseph Harmon reiterated the Coalition Government’s stance on national unity. “National unity for us is not an option, it is a prerequisite for us to move this country forward and so we do not play around with words. We are serious about our engagement with the Opposition about these matters and we remain open to conversations with the Opposition to see how best we can move this country forward.”
The Minister was at the time responding to questions posed by the media operatives at this week’s post-Cabinet press briefing at the Ministry of the Presidency. The Minister said that the Government has bent over backwards to facilitate the Opposition but it is now up the Party (PPP/C) and its leadership to come to the table with a comprehensive agenda.
“We are opened to these talks…if there are conditions, which the PPP set out, we would look at them objectively,” Minister Harmon said.
He noted, however, that if the Opposition is serious about national unity, it cannot keep shifting the goalpost and make wild statements in the media whenever it suits them. He said that a responsible political party must be able to use the mechanisms that are available to it to communicate with the Government, whatever issues or concerns it has and pointed out that Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo has access to President David Granger.
“We campaigned on the basis that Guyana needed national unity. We felt at all stages that a government of national unity is what is needed in Guyana… National unity and social cohesion is not a gimmick for us… This is why a Minister has been appointed and a Ministry has been established to demonstrate our seriousness to these issues,” the Minister of State said.
With regard to moving the development of the country on an upward trajectory, the Minister drew a comparison between Guyana and Singapore. The latter gained its Independence in 1965, only a year before Guyana had won its own. However, Singapore which has significantly less natural resources than Guyana was able to achieve the status of the ‘first world’ country in 2014.
“Based on our resources, geographic space and everything else, we are not where we should be in 2015… When we look at the whole political landscape we felt that unless we are able to engage the energies of all Guyanese that you will never be able to move this country at the pace at which it is required for it to catch up with the rest of the world”, he said.
He added that it is precisely for this reason that the Government is investing heavily in the country’s human capital.
In late August 2015, the President had a meeting with the Opposition Leader during which a number of issues were discussed including the on-going border controversy with Venezuela and the possibility of establishing a bi-partisan committees to address the areas of agriculture, security, the budget and national unity.