Georgetown, Guyana – (December 20, 2019) President David Granger, last evening, urged a large gathering of young people to equip themselves with the requisite skills and knowledge to advance Guyana’s development beyond the life of the petroleum sector.
The President said being cognisant that the country’s petroleum product will not last forever, the ‘Decade of Development’ will be launched next year to ensure that youths become the “muscle and the brain” to drive Guyana forward.
President Granger was at the time delivering the feature address at the first Youth Empowerment Summit (YES) hosted by the Youth Forward Movement on the lawns of the Watooka Guest House in Linden, Upper Demerara-Berbice (Region Ten).
“All around the world people are moving away from petroleum and you better learn that lesson that petroleum, whatever bonanza, whatever profits, whatever revenues we get, will not last forever. So, we have to put in place the type of development that would take us beyond petroleum. That is why I deliberately choose a ‘Decade of Development’, not a year of development [but] a decade because by 2030 this country must be must more developed than it is at present,” he said.
The Head of State told the youths that they can expect many programmes which will be established for their development during this decade, which will end in 2029. During this period, he said, emphasis will be placed on education, particularly as it relates to ensuring equal access. The President said every community should at least have a nursery school so that small children are not required to travel long distances to get to school; secondary colleges and university centres will be constructed in every Region and no eligible student will ever again have to pay for an education at the University of Guyana.
President Granger informed that during the ‘Decade’, Government intends to intensify and expand technical and vocation education, particularly to hinterland and rural communities.
Given all that Government plans to put in place, the Head of State believes that youths will be provided with the right tools to ensure that Guyana does not become heavily dependent on the petroleum sector.
“It (oil) wouldn’t last forever. Even some of the most productive petroleum countries now have the most successful solar energy generation plants. Some of the countries producing the most petroleum are also producing the most electricity from solar energy,” the President said.
President Granger chronicled programmes which have assisted young people to become economically empowered. He said that they can also create economic opportunities for themselves.
The Sustainable Livelihood and Entrepreneurial Development (SLED) programme, launched in 2016 has provided financing and technical support for more than 400 community projects which support income-generation. The Hinterland Employment and Youth Service (HEYS), launched in 2015 assisted in creating more than 1,200 jobs and trained some 3,728 hinterland youths and Linden Enterprise Network (LEN), re-launched in December 2015 with an injection of G$ 155M from the Government, disbursed 570 loans totalling G$326.2M over the past four years; Micro and Small Enterprise Development Scheme aimed at removing some of the traditional bottlenecks, disbursed 559 grants between 2015 and 2018, which supported initiatives in the fields of agro-processing, agro-culture, apiculture, aquaculture, business outsourcing, cultural industries and eco-tourism.
Additionally, the Guyana Youth Corps, aimed at ensuring young people are equipped with the knowledge, skills and attitudes to become productive citizens was re-launched on 28th March 2019 after having been inaugurated on the 1st January 1968 by the Government of- the- day; the Guyana Industrial Training Centre since 2015 has graduated a total of 734 persons in data operations, electrical installation, furniture-making, masonry, metallurgy, motor vehicle repairs, plumbing and welding; the Board of Industrial Training equipped more than 8,000 young persons with technical vocational skills over the past four years; and the Youth Innovation Project of Guyana, launched in 2017 to encourage innovative project ideas from young persons aged 14 to 35 years, selected 105 projects, from all ten administrative regions, for approval of which 65 have received funding totally G$97.3M, so far.
“That is why you must pay attention. Everything that was said tonight is important to you. Even if it means opening a small farm and producing carambola [or] producing guavas, it will make a contribution to some enterprise,” the President said.
The Head of State explained that in order to aid Guyana’s development investment is needed.
“You in this Region, with greater investment could generate those commodities [and] those products which could find markets…in the Caribbean. Investment is important,” he said before urging Lindeners in the diaspora to return to the Region and invest in manufacturing and other industries.
President Granger assured that Government is doing its best to ensure that employment is created for young people. He said significant emphasis is placed on job creation through self-employment and as such Government wants to see people developing marketable skills.
“Young people we are capable of producing those commodities and we have shown you the amount of schemes and programmes that our Government over the last four and a half years has established to make that type of marketing possible,” he said before informing those gathered that the Minister of Business will find a market locally and in the Caribbean for any product that is grown in Guyana.
The President said that Guyanese youth must have an opportunity to be fully employed and be afforded the opportunity to make decisions. “This is why this forum is very important. It is not entertainment. It’s not for a stage show. It is helping you to make decisions,” he said, noting that such an event should be replicated in other towns.
“Take and create a movement that is going to sweep this whole country. Let young people rise to the fore and take control of their destiny,” President Granger said as he reminded the gathering of the existence of a National Youth Policy, which rests on four pillars -education, equality, empowerment and employment.
The Head of State said the ‘Policy’ explains Government’s vision as “… a nation in which young people are united, educated, trained, safe, happy, healthy and integrally involved in the decision-making processes, while enjoying equality of opportunity and equal access to the resources of our country”.
The President commended the organizers of the Summit. “YES, is a very important element in youth administration and organization in Guyana. It is an innovative and a bright idea,” he said.
Meanwhile, Minister of Public Telecommunications Mrs. Catherine Hughes, described the youth as the chosen generation. “This is Guyana’s time now. You guys are the chosen generation and I want you to get up and go,” she said.
Minister Hughes outlined the work her Ministry has done to ensure there is digital connectivity in Linden and other parts of the country.
Region Ten’s Member of Parliament (MP), Mr. Jermaine Figueira spoke of the amount of money invested by the Government in the Region, particularly in the areas of education and sports.
Also present were Minister of State, Mrs. Dawn Hastings-Williams; Minister of Social Cohesion with Responsibility for Culture, Youth and Sport, Dr. George Norton; Minister of Natural Resources, Mr. Raphael Trotman; Minister responsible for rural affairs in the Ministry of Agriculture, Mrs. Valerie Patterson-Yearwood ; Director-General of the Ministry of the Presidency, Mr. Joseph Harmon and Mr. Audwin Rutherford, Member of Parliament, Region Ten.