“Greater inclusion leads to greater prosperity” – President meets with small parties on 2021 Budget

President Dr Irfaan Ali reiterated his commitment to engage with all stakeholders to ensure that Government plans and programs reflect the priorities of the people.

The Head of State gave this assurance during a working lunch at State House with representatives of Guyana’s small political parties, who were invited to discuss the 2021 Budget.

“You are all stakeholders in this process. And as we embarked on the 2021 Budget, I thought it was necessary that we at least have a working lunch and explore some of your thoughts, some of what you consider to be priorities, so that we can have a discussion, so that we can consult, so that we can reach a program in which all of Guyana feels as if they are part of it. ”

Attending the engagement were representatives from A New and United Guyana (ANUG), Liberty and Justice Party (LJP), Citizenship Initiative (TCI), New Movement (TNM), United Republican Party (URP) and Change Guyana.

Cabinet members joined the Head of State, including a Senior Minister in the President’s Office with Responsibility for Finance, Dr Ashni Singh; Minister for Parliamentary Affairs and Governance, Gail Teixeira; Minister at the Office of the Prime Minister, Kwame McCoy; Minister of Agriculture, Zulfikar Mustapha; Minister for Foreign Affairs, Hugh Todd; and Amerindian Affairs Minister Pauline Sukhai.

President Ali highlighted the importance of the “shared ownership” of the development trajectory, which will not only lead to greater prosperity and prospects but will pave the way for the opportunity to unite the people of Guyana.

“And that’s the biggest project we have on my mind … We can build a country that is strong, prosperous and economically viable. That takes critical thinking, that takes vision, that takes clarity, that takes action, but coming together and unifying requires a little more. “

The President emphasized the need to break down “selfish barriers” and to embrace new ways of thinking and behaviors to achieve this.

He said that the Government’s approach going forward will be innovative engagement, initiated by the 2021 Budget negotiations.

“These are some of the things we want to capture in an innovative and new way, not only in the 2021 Budget, but in the agenda going forward … So, it is an honor and privilege for you to engage with you again in this forum. ”

President Ali reminded the visiting politicians that his government had reached out to former President David Granger in a similarly inclusive way.

“We’ve been reaching out and trying our best … I invited former President Granger to a meeting he didn’t attend and then we have one component of the opposition that is peddling the agenda that Government is illegal so we have to do it to put things in context … that narrative has to be corrected. ”

In his remarks, Dr Ashni Singh emphasized the importance of engagement in finalizing the 2021 Budget.

“In order to ensure that we outline that vision in the most comprehensive way possible and to ensure that we identify the most essential interventions needed now and needed to lay the foundations going forward, we want to ensure you get the widest possible cross-section of scenes. You are important stakeholders and we would like to hear from you. “The Minister further asked attendees to share their visions of Guyana’s future and highlight the critical needs of the country.

Dr Singh also used the opportunity to express to those present an appreciation and sense of “debt” for their role in ensuring that Guyana remains a democratic country. He also said the victory was one that must be kept going forward.

In the meantime, Minister Teixeira expressed her appreciation to the delegates present for recognizing the President’s invitation. He noted that the engagement was an integral part of the country to move forward inclusively.

“For me and my sector governance this is a very important meeting in terms of inclusion, participation and being able to sit down and think about what is in the best interests of our country and our people. And so, this forum, I think, offers that opportunity, especially around Budget 2021. I’m sure, knowing the President, this won’t be the only such forum we will create dialogue for dialogue with various civil society bodies, political parties. ”

Following comments from the Head of State and Ministers present, small party representatives expressed their views on the impact of today’s engagement with the President.

Dr Vishnu Bandhu of the URP said the talks provided the platform for all parties to work together, move the country forward and bring the people of Guyana together.

Dr Abedin Kindi Ali of Change Guyana added, “I’m here on behalf of our party to get involved and give some input on the 2021 budget … we look forward to a meaningful discussion.”

Meanwhile a representative of A New and United Guyana, Ms Aruna Budhram, said, “I am very encouraged that this will is outreach… I understand there is a duty and obligation and because of that I am very happy to have a voice and that we can participate in this process. “

ANUG member Mr Kian Jabour expressed his appreciation for being involved in the process and to the Government for reaching out.

Joining the party representative in Parliament, Lenox Shuman, said he was looking forward to the opportunity to engage with the Government on aspects of the 2021 Budget.

Ms Asha Kissoon of The New Movement said, “I must say that the efforts we have seen so far to boost the economy have been fruitful … we are looking forward to today’s discussions, we have some inputs and we are happy to be able to voice our concerns. ”

Along with a Budget discussion, the small parties were also briefed on the development in Venezuela.