Guyana’s High Commissioner to India, David G. Pollard
Greetings from Guyana the only English-speaking South American nation nestled in the sunny, southern reaches of the Commonwealth Caribbean.
We achieved independence from Britain on 26th May 1966, 51 years ago, becoming a member of the Commonwealth as One nation of Six Peoples with One Destiny. In 1971 we attained Republican status with a non-executive President replacing the Queen as Head of State. In 1980, under a new constitution, the Presidency became executive while remaining Head of State with the Prime Minister as Head of Government.
Government in Guyana functions, in effect, as a two-party, Westminster-style system. Administrations have been long-lived lasting more than 20 years each so far despite regular and increasingly transparent national elections. The last change in administration in 2015 ushered in a government committed to much-improved Governance and the creation of “A Good Life in a Green Economy” for all Guyanese. The motto refers to our continued efforts to implement a sustainable, low carbon development strategy in Guyana as evidence by the REDD+ programme with Norway. Under that agreement, Norway has established a fund that pays Guyana to keep its rate of deforestation low.
Also in 2015, a consortium led by ExxonMobil discovered huge deposits of oil and gas in deep waters offshore Guyana. The commercial viability of the find is such that it is being rushed into production by 2020. The impact of the resulting oil revenues will be transformational for the Guyanese economy and the Government is determined that the windfall should not be squandered. So, just as the oil men are rushing towards production, so is Guyana rushing to institute appropriate governance. We are applying for membership of the Energy Industry Transparency Initiative, have activated the long-delayed Public Procurement Committee in Parliament and are examining the framework for a Sovereign Wealth Fund, amongst other measures. Oil will not derail the drive towards a transparent, sustainable Green Economy and to this end, Guyana is carefully seeking partnerships with friendly countries.
India is a technologically advanced state with rapidly evolving industrial and business sectors with which Guyana has had a real and lasting friendship over many decades. One cannot forget the role that the Indentureship programme played in forging those bonds when more than 40% of Guyanese are of Indian origin. In 2017, as India along with countries in the Caribbean, Pacific and Africa commemorate the Centenary of the Abolition of Indentureship we can reflect on the progress that “Grimityas” have made in Guyana where our current Prime Minister and some previous Presidents are products of that movement.
The links between Guyana and India are not only historical and cultural but also current and economic. Through its Lines of Credit programme, India has extended a tangible hand of friendship that is being used for projects in Guyana in important sectors like Hospitals & Healthcare, Agriculture, Transportation and Infrastructure. Particularly in terms of the well targeted and transparent way in which it has worked with us on these projects India has been a friend indeed. Active areas of trade and business between Guyana and India include Forestry, Gold & Diamond Mining, Gold Trading, Pharmaceuticals, Textiles, Health Education, Banking and Information Technology.
As India turns its face outwards even more and builds on its growing, global influence as the world’s most populous democracy we look forward to the strengthening of our partnership in development. Let our common commitment to the sustainability of that development be a guide as the future unfolds.