Good faith inclusive dialogue for national development in Guyana

Dear Editor,
The Government of Guyana under the Presidency of Dr Irfaan Ali must be highly commended for its proactive approaches in consultation with several organisations and reaching out to various communities throughout the country. National inclusive dialogue involving all key stakeholders is essential for building consensus on major issues for the development of our country, and should be institutionalised and sustained in national governance
I should like to encourage an open debate and advocacy for a national consensus on all major political, economic, social and security issues… There are many voices calling national dialogue with the political parties and interest groups to forge a consensus for national social and economic development. Genuine national dialogue guarantees participation in a democratic process. The development of our economy offers opportunities from which all can gain, but these have to be grounded in principled and participatory processes and institutions if they are to confer legitimacy and sustainability on economic and social policies.
The pillars of society constituted by the National Assembly, Government, Private Sector, workers’ and civil society organisations must commit themselves to engage in determined dialogue, based on the principles of mutual trust and good faith. Success in the mutual outcome of national dialogue also requires national commitment and national political will, and the full commitment of the Private Sector, workers and their organisations, and civil society. National dialogue processes need to be strengthened, encouraged and supported. The building of that trust, its maintenance and its sustainability require a high degree of commitment and leadership.
Good faith national conferring and dialogue among the political parties and other main stakeholders in society, including the Private Sector organisations, trade union bodies, religious bodies, professional organisations, the universities on governance and social and economic development matters should be promoted and adopted as a matter of high priority for the national good. The objective is to foster confidence, high trust, mutual understanding, cordial and civil communication and good relations at the national level. Another objective is also to find agreed solutions to political governance and socio-economic problems and issues, and to forge national consensus for political governance and national development. The promotion of political and social justice in Guyana could be achieved if the identified groups are involved in the search for appropriate solutions through genuine dialogue. They have the major responsibility in the success of the dialogue processes.
In Guyana, the real challenge is to develop national consensus in the form of national accord on political governance and an agreed programme for social, economic, security and human development in the interest of the national community rather than political partisan interest. National consensus agreements provide the framework for strategies to achieve good political governance, international competitiveness, higher standards of living, improved social protection, a stable currency, investment-friendly policies, and a conducive political and social climate in an environment which upholds and respect fundamental rights and freedoms at all levels in the national community.
The outcome of national dialogue can promote effective management of the economy in a climate of good political governance with inclusive goodwill in political and civil society participation. It is crucial for agreeing on measures for balanced economic, social and political developments. The governing authority of the National Assembly and the Government bear a heavy responsibility for ensuring that good governance, defined as: “The manner in which power is exercised in the management of a country’s economic and social resources for development,” reflects fairness in political, economic and social justice. A country that is committed to such good political governance will ensure that there is genuine participation by the political and social partners who must demonstrate credibility, transparency, and accountability in the administration and management of national affairs.
The challenges in terms of national strategies are to promote a mature political culture, economic growth, social, political, and human development, call for actions at the national level. It is for the Government, the political parties, Private Sector, the labour movement and civil society in Guyana –
(a) to respect, promote and realise in good faith the fundamental principles of human rights enshrined in our national Constitution and laws, UN Conventions, and regional and other international treaty obligations; and
(b) to adopt through genuine and sustained national dialogue, changes in political governance and the management of national socio-economic and public affairs.
These must be promoted in a paradigm shift – from the prolonged confrontational and divisive posture to one which cultivates consensus and co-operation in the national interest. Let genuine dialogue among all the parties/partners begin afresh without delay to achieve national consensus to move this country forward as a united country. My list for genuine dialogue includes:
– building confidence and high trust measures;
– agreeing on a shared vision for Guyana;
– Constitutional reform aimed at:
– creating a broad-based, inclusive Government which can elect the President by two-thirds vote by the National Assembly and which caters for one Vice President as the number two position in Government (abolish the misnomer of Prime Minister)
– allocation, constitutionally of ministerial portfolios based on the proportional strengths of the parties forming the Government,
– electoral reforms,
– fixed Election Day every five years,
– an agreed programme for political, social, economic and human development for the national good for all citizens, and
– the creation of a more service-oriented, professional, depoliticised, public service, capable of resisting undue of political influences.

Samuel J Goolsarran