We welcome the New Year – 2017 – with supreme confidence and with the strong conviction that we have chosen the correct course to advance our country.
National pride was evident at home and in the diaspora as we celebrated our Jubilee year in 2016. We shall be even prouder as we apply our assets and abilities in this new year to move faster and further along the path of economic growth.
Public trust was enhanced when, for the first time since 1994, our communities were re-empowered to elect councillors in local government elections. Residents were happy that we established three new towns in the hinterland – at Bartica, Lethem and Mabaruma – to stimulate development away from the coastland. Freely elected councils and local democracy will strengthen communities which are the bases for richer regions and a prosperous country.
Public safety will improve. We have seen the clearest sign, also, that the unlawful and unreasonable claims to our country’s territory will be set on a definite course for settlement at the end of this new year. Our vigilance to protect our people and our patrimony against all threats to our territory will not be diminished.
We look forward to a happy year as we continue to move purposefully along the path towards the establishment of a ‘green state’. This new year will witness the acceleration of the transition towards improvements in our citizens’ quality of life.
The ‘green state’ will see us doing more to adopt the use of renewable energy. We are drafting a comprehensive, clean energy plan to guide our transition to sustainable energy generation.
The ‘Plan’ will enable us to receive renewable and reliable energy at a reduced cost for households, industries and hinterland communities. It will remove our dependence on imported fossil fuels; it will result in foreign exchange savings and it will insulate our economy from the impact of rising petroleum prices.
The ‘green state’ also involves empowering local communities in order to generate employment at the ‘grassroots’ level – particularly for women and youth. The development of renewable sources of electricity generation – from bio-mass, hydro-, solar- and wind-power – will provide employment for thousands of skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled persons. The industries spawned by these sectors will multiply job opportunities.
Solar energy systems will be installed in more public buildings and in hinterland communities as we continue to convert the country to renewable energy use. We re-commit to pursuing a low-carbon, low-emission path to economic development.
The ‘green state’ will promote the protection of our natural environment by the conservation of our fauna and flora. Every region will be required to provide for protected areas, conservation parks, reserves and sanctuaries to protect our wildlife. We will identify an additional 2 million hectares of our territory for conservation.
The ‘green state’, this year, will become an engine of economic diversification. Our flora and fauna and luxuriant natural vegetation – the coastal lowlands; the highlands; the grasslands; the wetlands; the sand belt; the lakes, rivers, rapids and magnificent waterfalls and the evergreen, montane and rain forests – will further catalyse our eco-tourism and eco-education sectors by emphasising our biodiversity.
Diversification will support industrial enterprises and sustain livelihoods by suppressing the impact of exogenous shocks and by opening new investment and employment opportunities.
The establishment of a ‘green’ state will reduce the impact of the economic and environmental shocks which have retarded our development. The ‘green’ state will reduce our country’s carbon footprint. The ‘green state will diversify our economic base and promote increased value-added production.
The ‘green state’ will demand that we strengthen our efforts in science and technology education and quicken the adoption of information and communication technology. ICT will facilitate greater connectivity between the coastland and hinterland; stimulate the services sector; improve the delivery of public services and enhance the competitiveness of our economy.
We belong to a beautiful, blissful, bountiful country that possesses abundant natural resources. We must care these resources. We must conserve their use for the benefit of present and future generations.
The people of our great country can look forward to the new year with hope.