On this rainy night we leave 2o2o and we embark on 2021 with every reason for optimism for our future as a nation and as a country.
Our economic prospects have never been brighter. Our collective feet are firmly placed on the first rungs of a ladder to prosperity that is clearly within our sight.
The only impediment to our steady climb to the top are those among us who choose selfish gains over national benefits.
History, including religious tracts, is replete with examples of persons who sacrificed the interests of a people in pursuit of their self-interested purposes.
As a nation, we must resist those who try to lure any of us into serving a cause less noble, less beneficial, and less worthwhile than the upliftment and empowerment of all Guyanese.
When I accepted the democratic decision of the majority of our people to serve as President, I made clear that my stewardship of our nation’s affairs would be in the interest of all – those who voted for me, and those who did not.
I saw my principal role then, as I reaffirm now, as uniting our people – all races, all groups – and advancing their collective interest.
I will not be swayed or influenced from that single-minded focus.
No nation can progress in peace and in shared prosperity if it is divided against itself.
Every person within it must be given equal opportunity to shine; every individual must be provided the chance to achieve.
And, as a nation we must take pride in individual achievement; we must applaud it and encourage it, regardless of the race, religion, or geographical origin of the person.
We must recall always that our nation is the sum of all its people.
If we are to fulfil our desire to be a great nation, not one of our people should be neglected; everyone should be lifted up.
YEAR TO RECOVERY
The year 2021 will be the springboard from which our nation will leap into recovery – rebuilding our economy, enhancing our people’s health and lifting up the vulnerable in our society. We must not remain a rich country of poor people.
The bounty of our nation must be shared across our population. The standard of living and the quality of life must be lifted for all. Work will be rewarded; hard work will be rewarded even more.
Opportunities will be created to join in such work, and they will be made available to all. I recognise that there are communities within our society who, because of disadvantages of geographic location, will need more help than others to join our national advance.
We will identify those communities; assess their needs; identify solutions and implement plans to change their circumstances.
This change will not occur overnight; it will take time. But every journey begins with a first step.
I intend to initiate that first step and to maintain a steady pace that will take us to that journey’s end. We still have many challenges ahead of us.
COVID-19 will not die with the fading of 2020 in the darkness of midnight. It will still be there in the bright light of 2021’s new dawn.
It will remain a threat to the health of our people and to the fortunes of our commercial sector.
But, we face the pandemic now with the knowledge that vaccines have been created, and have already been distributed to millions of people in the United States and Europe.
The inoculations offer confidence over concern and hope over fear. Our government is working intensely to secure vaccines to immunise our nation.
Our goal is to inoculate all who are willing to accept the vaccine, starting with the most vulnerable in our society.
We will soon be concluding Phase 1 of the COVID-19 G$25,000 household cash grant.
Immediately, in the new year, we will implement Phase 2 to provide help to those who were not reached in the first Phase.
The COVID-19 pandemic led to a failure by many persons to meet their financial obligations, including those related to hire purchases. The promulgation of a new Hire Purchase Bill will protect consumers.
Never again will anyone suffer the indignity of losing their household appliances by virtue of missing a payment
In the meantime, we must all act to protect ourselves and the people around us. Already too many families have lost a parent, or grandparent, a son or a daughter.
They know the wretchedness of loss and the pain of helplessness against this unseen killer.
I again offer my deepest sympathy and sorrow to all who have lost loved ones to this dreadful disease, and I summon every one of us to act together to halt its spread.
As a people, we have made great sacrifices, in the past, to overcome great trials and enormous challenges to emerge still standing, still vibrant.
Now this generation must join previous generations that stood up to malaria, cholera, yellow fever and all the other diseases that plagued our country by showing discipline, good sense and care.
Wearing masks, sanitising hands, gathering only in small groups, maintaining physical distancing – all are necessary to keep everyone safe.
Let us stop the tears of a parent’s untimely death, and the grief for the sudden loss of a young child.
Those tears will only turn to laughter and sorrow into joy, if we demonstrate the personal and collective responsibility to be our brother’s keeper, our sister’s protector and our children’s guardian.
Guyana’s economic recovery is demonstrably underway.
Our business communities in Georgetown and elsewhere have reported better performance over this holiday season than any of the previous five years. And this was achieved even with the restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic.
There is more money in circulation and more disposable income in people’s pockets than our country has witnessed in a long time.
I am confident that the steps which our Government will take in 2021 will continue to lift up our economy and improve the fortunes of every person within our nation.
The task before us in 2021 is to reaffirm our belief in ourselves as one people and one nation, determined to rise together in harmony, showing the world the strength and determination of which we are capable.
Let us join our hands and our hearts in making 2021 the year we leap into a future of prosperity and progress.
We have it within ourselves to restore with passion the rich soul of our country and our people.
My hand is outstretched to help one and all. Happy New Year.
May God bless and protect you and your families!