I extend New Year’s greetings to our entire nation. Wherever the dawn of 2023 finds you: be it at home, attending Church, engaged in spirited revelry, or at work, I offer wishes for good health, happiness and success in 2023.
The birth of a New Year is a time to take stock and to reflect on the achievements of the past year.
Review of 2022
In 2022, our economy continued on its high-growth path. Guyana is projected to be declared the world’s fastest growing economy. Despite significant challenges from global supply chain shocks and price increases triggered by the war in Ukraine, Guyana’s economic performance was stellar. Amidst these threats, Guyana’s economy proved resilient; growth was sustained, inflation contained to single digits, and exchange and interest rates stabilized.
We have kept our promise to resuscitate the traditional sectors. As a consequence, the non-oil economy is expected to register a growth of almost 10% for 2022.
The buoyancy of the local economy supported a fast-paced, energetic, but careful rollout of our national transformative agenda. Progress was made in advancing major infrastructural initiatives, including the gas-to-shore project, the Corentyne River Bridge project and the proposed new Demerara River Bridge.
Transformation is also taking place at the community level. A massive programme of improving community roads is being rolled out across the country; recreational facilities are being enhanced and drainage improved.
Over the past year, our people continued to benefit from better social services. For thousands of Guyanese, the New Year will find them either in their own homes or on their way to becoming new homeowners.
In 2022, we increased access to potable water to more than 15,000 persons, and plans are advanced to ensure that some 100,000 more persons benefit from treated water and through improvements to our water supply system. Our aged electricity network is being upgraded to provide a more stable supply of electricity even as plans are in train for increasing generation.
In education, our students continue to excel at regional examinations, a tribute to the quality of the local educationsystem. This outcome would not have been possible without the interventions which we made in improving teachers’ training, expanding the schools’ feeding programme, and enhancing the support provided to parents.
The modernization of our health sector is moving apace with emphasis on increasing healthcare access, improving healthcare infrastructure, enhancing incentives for health sector workers,and expanded training of health care personnel.
Our elderly and vulnerable population was supported through increased pensions, social assistance, cash grants and the payment of annual disability grants.
The investments made in public security have led to a decline in serious crime by 19%, the lowest reported rate for such crimes in a decade.
The past year saw the government engaging with and involving citizens in the strengthening of community development.
In 2022, public sector workers benefited from enhanced remuneration. Thousands are now benefitting from the part-time jobs being created by the government. The national minimum wage was increased and measures implemented to address the rise in the cost of living, a problem which continues to plague citizens around the world.
Guyana led from the front in its relations with the Caribbean and the rest of the world, particularly in the area of food security and climate change. The signing of the historic agreement for the sale of carbon credits attests to our commitment to protect the environment while ensuring revenues for national development. Indeed, on all fronts, the past year has afforded Guyanese the opportunity for a better life.
Plans for 2023
But the best is yet to come. In this New Year, we intend to step on the accelerator in propelling our people-centered and inclusive national agenda.
Economic growth will be sustained in 2023. This will generate increased opportunities for citizens and business, spurring further development.
But mere growth is not enough. In 2023, we shall roll outpolicies, programmes, and projects to ensure that the fruits of this growth are more equitably shared amongst our population. Our primary goal is shared prosperity, one which is characterized by reduced inequality. In this regard, no region, community, or village will be left behind in our quest to create a One Guyana.
The New Year will therefore see a greater thrust towards community development. Your government will engage communities to assist them in improving roads, drainage, street lights, recreational facilities, and in improving safety and security.
Among our plans for 2023 are:
• Proceeding with major road transport works including the Linden to Mabura Road, completing the Eccles to Diamond road link; advancing plans for the four-lane highway between Crane and Schoonord, the new bridge across the Demerara River, and the Ogle to Eccles road link.
• Intensifying the digital transformation of Guyana, including plans relating to coding, telemedicine, smart classrooms, virtual education for the hinterland; electronic health records management, and establishing a single window for business and building permits.
• Commencing work on a National Hospitality Institute; and
• Expanding shrimp production, increasing the use of shade houses in the agricultural sector, and promoting large-scale cultivation of high-value crops such as broccoli and cauliflower, and large-scale dairy production.
These are only some of the massive transformative plans we have for every single region.
The New Year will also witness intensified efforts at arresting criminal activities.
Healthcare will be boosted in the New Year. Major upgrades will be undertaken to regional and district hospitals and improvements undertaken at health clinics and centers. Works on the construction of new hospitals at Anna Regina, Bath Settlement, De Kindren, Little Diamond, Enmore, No.75 Village; and a new pediatric and maternity hospital at Ogle will proceed this year. In addition, every regional and district hospital will soon be able to offer a suite of diagnostic services such as (CT) scans, echocardiograms, ultrasound scans, and X-rays. The demand for more medical personnel will be met through expanded training, including quadrupling the number of nurses trained each year. We want the best education with which our citizens can benefit from.
We are going to provide the resources that can provide our children with world-class education. As such, this year we will intensify teacher training to ensure that by the end of 2025, all teachers in our public education system are trained. All students will be entitled to universal secondary education. The school feeding programme will be expanded. This year we will also begin consultations on plans to ensure that every child receives a rounded education. Every student exiting school should have exposure to at least one sport, one musical instrument, one foreign language one technical and vocational skill as well as be imbued with a sense of volunteerism and social responsibility.
This year too we will sustain our plans for the empowerment of our women and youth. We will provide enhanced social protections to the vulnerable in our society, including the disabled and elderly, and we will work to create a more caring society in which communities attend to and support the less fortunate.
Our plans for this year, 2023, will lay the foundation for the establishment of the post 2o30 State. We envision a country,which at the turn of the next decade will be the energy and industrial capital of the Caribbean, a prime tourism destination, a regional food security, and transport hub, and a competitive knowledge-based, and low-carbon economy. The post 2030Guyana will be inclusive and wedded to sustainable development.
We will ensure all our citizens have access to world-class education and healthcare services, and provide opportunities for all to be the best version of themselves.
All the wealth in the world will not bring us development unless we cultivate the right values: including service, self-sacrifice, social responsibility, and solicitude. My wish on this New Year is that as we pursue our own goals that we be mindful of our responsibilities, as citizens, to work for the good of all.
As we begin this New Year, I pray that the blessings of the Creator be upon all of us and guide us over the next twelve months. Let us never be too preoccupied to give praise and thanks to the Master of the Universe!
To all Guyanese, I wish you all a happy and successful 2023. And may good cheer and blessings be with you all year long!
Happy New Year Guyana!
May God bless you, and your families. I thank you