President concedes cheap electricity, youth employment should have been top priority
One year on
While many have reviewed the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Administration’s first year in office following the May 11, 2015 General and Regional Elections, looking back President David Granger said there were some areas on which he wished he had placed more emphasis.
Speaking during an early broadcast of the weekly televised programme “The Public Interest”, the Head of State, when asked about what his Administration should have done that was not done over the past year, said that more priority should have been given to cheap and clean electricity and the creation of jobs for young people as well as the education sector.
“I would have, at the start, paid a lot more attention to the environment and the need to generate cheap electricity. I would have done that a year ago, rather than trying to do it now. Secondly, I will pay more attention to getting children to stay in school, and thirdly, would be job creation,” he stated.
According to Granger, the economy has not been able to produce sufficient jobs to reduce the country’s unemployment rate, especially among youths. In this vein, the President said that the investors must allow micro-enterprises to flourish, in particular in agro-processing.
“I believe that there is a lot more scope for getting women and young folk into agro-processing and micro-enterprise. That is the way forward, when young people can look forward to employment in that (area),” he stated. “I would have liked to engage the Private Sector to create funds for micro-enterprises.”
These funds, he opined, can be used to give entrepreneurs a start and enable them to take off with whatever venture they are interested in. Nevertheless, the President pointed out that in order for young people to get the jobs they want, they need to stay in school to better qualify themselves.
On this note, he highlighted his desire to get more children into schools and keep them there. “We want to keep our children in school and I think that is something that I haven’t fully accomplished. I’d like to do much more,” he stated.
According to the Head of State, the process he has adopted – that is, the distribution of school buses and bicycles, as well as the ‘hot meals’ initiative, is slow, but he remained optimistic that it would gain momentum in attracting more children to attend school, so that they can get a higher standard of education.
On the issue of generating cheaper electricity, Granger posited that Government has to lead the way in terms of ensuring a ‘Green Economy’, a policy which his Administration has employed.
In acknowledging the effect the high cost of energy has on the local manufacturing sector and the deterrent it is to foreign investors, the President outlined that there needed to be more wind farms, more solar farms, more hydro projects and more bio-mass so that every community can have access to cheaper energy.
“You cannot get very far without cheaper energy… You cannot have competitive manufacturing out there without cheap energy and that has been a big problem. The way I put it is that we have an oil addiction and any time somebody wants to use power, the first talk is about gasoline or diesel,” the Head of State stressed.
President Granger, nonetheless, assured that Government intended to change this practice and rely more on sustainable energy. He further urged the manufacturing sector to adopt new technology in order to utilise clean energy.
Going forward, the President said more focus would be placed on these three priority areas to have more done in developing them.
Meanwhile, the Guyanese Head of State said he was very positive about the achievements of his Administration, stating that it was able to cover a lot of ground” over the past year. He mentioned his “very muscular” Cabinet of 15 Ministries, noting that he was convinced the Ministers know their roles and have been performing their duties “exceptionally.”
Furthermore, President Granger went on to highlight that under his Administration, the security sector has been strengthened in some areas while adding that more work needed to be done in others. “We’ve made a lot of progress in trying to reduce crime; for example, piracy is almost unheard of now. There is a lot of interpersonal violence, but generally we have been able to bring the murder rate down apart from the domestic violence crimes,” he stated.
The President also mentioned the fact that within its first year in office, his Administration had managed to host Local Government Elections after more than 20 years without such elections.