President David Granger: It was a real educational experience for me to be here today to learn from you, and having gone around with the Chairman and the other managers; I don’t have anything much to say because a lot of what I had intended to say is already taking place.
This is a company of the future. I know that last year you celebrated your 60th anniversary but this is not a company of the past, what I saw today convinces me that Guyana’s industrial future, Guyana’s business future, is being led by a corporation which has vision and which has the interest of this country at heart. Give me an Amen… [Applause.] Okay, thank you, thank you.
Mr. Chairman and managing director, co-managing director, executive directors, managers, employees, fellow green shirt wearers, members of the media – you see I’m wearing [a] white shirt now, you can’t complain. [Laughter.] This is an industrial visit not a political visit. As I said, this company, this corporation was born a little over 60 years ago. It is a Guyanese company that is important for me. [Applause.]
And I know the chairman and the directors have had to fight off some – I don’t want to use the wrong words – fight off some interested people who wanted to extend their influence. You see I have to be very careful. I have to be diplomatic. I can only be undiplomatic when I’m talking about Venezuela because on the 17th February, next week, we will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Geneva Agreement, but that’s another story.
But this corporation has called itself the pacesetter and it is indeed a pioneering company. When I look around and see there are Guyanese employees; when I see your engineers, when I see the expertise, the care that you have exercised over giving our consumers and our citizens a quality product, eye water ah run. I really feel very, very proud of you Banks DIH.
But you know, man cannot live by rum alone. This is the future of this company; it is a food corporation and regardless of how the father of your founder started out, we are looking towards increasing the supply of food to our children and to our citizens and what I saw here is the face of the future.
Guyana for the last 100 years has been relying on what I call the six sisters: sugar, rice, gold, diamond, bauxite, timber. Well those old girls are you know, some of them have seen better days and we have to look towards agro-processing. We have to look towards converting the agricultural commodities that we are capable of producing into food. I have over a quarter of a million school children to feed every day and I would like to be able to guarantee them healthy, Guyanese meals and what I saw here today convinces me that this is going to be one of the vanguard companies in providing food; cheap food, nutritious food for our school children and also [for] our adults.
But in addition to that, what I saw here today tells me that this is not a profiteering company. It’s a company that is going to enhance the relationship with communities. That it’s the communities which produce the raw materials, which produce the fruit that you are going to use to get fruit juice; which produce the rice; which produce the sugar; which will produce the milk that you will get for your future products. We can do all of these things in Guyana.
Guyana is bigger than England and Scotland combined; we are a big country and my brothers and sisters, other countries know that better than some of us. The Barbadians are into the Rupununi and the Rupununi is bigger than Costa Rica. The Rupununi is the biggest region and the Barbadians are there. The Chinese are there in East Berbice looking to produce agricultural commodities. The Trinidadians are coming in…‘wha wrong with we?’
If others can come in to produce agricultural commodities, we can do so better. But I am convinced that in our communities… because your Chairman, he’s not a town boy you know, he is from the East Coast, he look like a town boy? But the community he came from was one of the pioneers in bottling; pioneers in agricultural production and my policy and the policy of this government, is to continue to strengthen communities so that right there in the villages young men can get jobs producing commodities for corporations like Banks DIH.
Communities are where people live and if we can provide employment in the communities, just as we are providing employment here, this is going to be not only a happier company but a richer company. So I look to the day, I look to the future when Banks DIH will continue to show leadership to industry in Guyana; producing everything a child needs in that lunch kit; the chocolate milk, the crackers, the cookies.
It is really encouraging to go around this country and see in the Rupununi, villages and communities producing peanut butter, cassava bread even now. I went to a conference in Barbados and the FAO [Food and Agricultural Organisation] has got a big exhibition showing what could be done – believe it or not – with rice flour and cassava flour. So the things that Guyanese were embarking on 40 years ago the rest of the Region is now discovering.
We are indeed a pacesetter country and I do believe that from what I’ve seen today, from the evidence that I have seen today, that you will continue to lead us into a realm, into an era of economic prosperity. So, I’m happy to be here as I said it is an education for me to be among you, to see you working happily. I had to ask the chairman if he gives all of his workers cell phones; I [have] never seen so many cell phones. But what I have seen above the cell phones is smiling faces, happy workers. [Laughter.]
I would just like to assure you on behalf of the Government of Guyana that we will continue to support local industry; we will continue to support our communities; we will continue to support production so that our Guyanese people would feel secure in the products that come out of corporations like this.
This company is ‘ah we dis own’ and I am proud to be here. [Applause.] I am proud to be here among you and to wish your chairman and his directors and to wish all of you workers not only the best for 2016 but you have a great future serving the Guyanese people.
I thank you and may God bless you all.

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