… says bilateral relations better than ever
In light of uncertainties among Guyanese following the election of Donald Trump as the United States President back in November 2016, US Ambassador to Guyana Perry Holloway has reassured that his country is still committed to bilateral relations with Guyana.
In fact, he disclosed that the US Embassy has processed some 79,000 visas over
the past year with less refusals being recorded.
“Our Consular Section processed more than 72,000 Non-immigrant and 7000 Immigrant visas this past year. The improving economic situation over the last few years has led to our refusal rate coming down significantly from a high of well over 50 per cent five years ago,” he said to a reception gathering on Thursday evening at the Marriott Hotel. The event was hosted to celebrate the US’ 241st independence anniversary which was held under the theme “US-Guyana Relations Strong.”
On this note, the Ambassador added that “only a very small percentage of Guyanese abuse their (non-immigrant) visas by staying illegally” in the North American country.
He also mentioned that over the past year, the Embassy’s Consular Section and the Regional Security Office worked with local law enforcement to obtain the first successful prosecution for visa fraud in Guyana, which resulted in an Internet Café vendor being imprisoned.
The diplomat went on to point out that his country’s policy to Guyana, its Government and its people has not changed as the US continues with many of its ongoing programmes, while adding new ones as they go along.
“The fears that we were disengaging or even forgetting about Guyana were quite simply misplaced fears. Bilateral relations could not be better… a lot is going on and there is more to come,” he indicated.
According to Holloway, his Government spend around US$30 million in and on Guyana through bilateral and regional foreign assistance, with remittances from the North American nation amounting to US$225 million annually.
The Ambassador outlined some of the areas where the US Government has been lending assistance to Guyana, especially in the areas of the emerging oil and gas sector. These included technical assistance to the Natural Resources Ministry to support the development of a strong regulatory framework in preparation for oil, support for Guyana’s candidacy for the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), and support for efforts to improve fiscal transparency and capacity building in tax administration, as well as assistance for the telecommunications and civil aviation sectors.
He continued that the Embassy has several youth development programmes on-going such as USAID Skills and Knowledge for Youth Employment (SKYE) project and the Youth Empowerment Services (YES) programme.
In addition to partnerships on the health and education front, the US diplomat also highlighted assistance rendered by his Administration in the area of security. He spoke of the many exchanges on the military side as well as the successes of the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) here by training local officers and equipping them with the relevant information to launch investigations.
Meanwhile, in his remarks at Thursday’s reception, President Granger acknowledged that the United States has been a reliable and strategic partner to Guyana since the establishment of bilateral relations between the two countries 51 years ago.
The Guyanese leader said his country holds its friendship with the US with great importance. He noted that this strong, reliable and strategic partnership paved the way for bilateral cooperation in the areas of culture, defence, economic development, education, governance, health, justice improvement and security cooperation.
President Granger’s speech focused on the collaboration between the two countries in the area of security. On this note, he highlighted that both countries face the common threat of transnational crime, which, he said, can be countered only through international cooperation.
“International terrorism and trafficking in persons and in illegal weapons and narcotics represent national security threats to our states and to the hemisphere. They weaken the security of small states, undermine public institutions and erode licit economies. International security cooperation is critical to combating these threats; cooperation is imperative for human safety; cooperation is vital to preserving the Caribbean as a zone of peace; cooperation is necessary to maintaining the integrity of criminal justice systems and to dismantling criminal networks,” the Head of State said.
Having partnered at the regional level within the framework of the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI), the Guyanese President outlined that he is looking forward to deepening this collaboration under the Caribbean 2020 strategy – a multiyear initiative aimed at increasing the security, prosperity, and well-being of the peoples of the United States and the Caribbean.
Additionally, President Granger mentioned Government’s ‘green’ state agenda, noting that Guyana is eager to learn from the United States, which is considered a global leader in renewable energy technologies.