President David Granger on Friday reiterated his call for a “social contract” amongst all players on the national stage to move the country forward.
“A social contract could be the means of combining the talents of a wider constituency and of creating the conditions for social cooperation. The purpose of such a contract would be to reach a broad consensus on the goals of national development, to establish a sustainable institutional architecture and to create effective policy instruments for the achievement of our national objectives. A covenant will allow government and the civil society to combine their resources, become more focused and exert a greater impact on society. Civil society has the experience, expertise and social capital to address most social problems. It will facilitate the pooling of resources to better address the root causes of social problems rather than merely dealing with the symptoms,” the Head of State said.
The Ministry of the Presidency reported that Granger made the remarks at a fundraising dinner for the Rotary Club at the Pegasus Hotel. He said that while the 2015 General and Regional Elections would have brought a new administration into power, his government is committed to the interests of all Guyanese. As such, the Administration will collaborate with the opposition, civil society and every other group to ensure that its goal of creating a stronger, healthier, cohesive nation is realised.
“The results of the May 2015 elections, I do not regard as a victory. I see it as an opportunity. For one side to win 207,000 votes and the other side to win 202,000 votes is not a grand victory. Rather, it is an opportunity for collaboration, not conflict; for a contract to cooperate and to understand that working together, not fighting; is the formula of the future,” Granger was quoted as saying.
On this note, he proposed a “social contract” which will provide the milieu for major sections of society; civil society, the government, political opposition, trade unions and the private sector, to collaborate on a broad national programme to move the country forward.
Granger and APNU had previously floated the notion of a “social contract” and a national unity government. In September, then Minister of Governance Raphael Trotman announced that a team consisting of Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo, Vice President Carl Greenidge, himself, Minister of Public Security Khemraj Ramjattan, Attorney General Basil Williams and Minister of State Joseph Harmon would conduct the negotiations with the PPP on governance. Prior to that, in August, Trotman had said that Granger will “very soon” announce an initiative for engagement between the government and the opposition.
Not too keen
However, the PPP/C is not too keen on engaging with Nagamootoo.
Meantime, Granger said Guyanese must capitalise on the opportunity Guyana’s jubilee anniversary provides to revitalise communities and turn them into thriving economic hubs, safer societies, cleaner and greener places and vibrant cultural and social spaces.
According to the Ministry of the Presidency, he said civil society groups have a critical role in fostering communitarianism and called on the Rotary Club of Georgetown to lead efforts to instill the virtue of accountability to family and community to build a strong and united Guyana.
The President noted that Guyana has a long history of violence and division, but as the country prepares to celebrate its 50th Independence Anniversary, it cannot afford to continue to stagger perpetually on the brink of catastrophe, constantly moving from one crisis to another.
“We need to exhibit the common sense and social cohesion which can ensure a cessation of this senseless divisiveness,” the President was quoted as saying.
To this end, he noted that 2016 is Guyana’s “Year of Renaissance” and as such all citizens and civil society groups must stand in solidarity and embrace the ideology of communitarianism, which emphasises an individual’s responsibility to the community and the social importance of the family.
“The solution is effective representation and inclusion…this year is opportune for us to promote the spirit of the community development through partnerships between civil society and government. These will allow us to solve problems while promoting the common good…We believe that, by and large, we can all attain the ‘good life’ we desire. We can work together for the improvement of our communities and the promotion of the good life for all,” the President said.
According to the report, Granger noted that civil society, while pursuing its individual interests, generally works to ensure that its efforts are directed toward the broader objectives of society.
“Men and women who comprise civil society are united in a covenant to serve others, to promote strong communities and to solve the social problems that exist in the country. There is too much inequality and poverty. There are too many uneducated persons whose ranks are augmented annually by four thousand drop-outs our primary and secondary schools. There is too much unemployment especially among the uneducated young. There are too many communities which are unsafe owing to crime. Communities are not in a state of collapse. There are, however, in need of change in order to avert decline or disaster,” he said.
The President noted that these problems cannot be addressed by any single group –whether it is a government or non-governmental organisation, but require a collective and cohesive response.
“These problems are national in scale. They require national responses. They require combinations between civil society and government to strengthen the communities in which people live…Communities are important… Civil society understands the plight of the poor. Government and civil society can support each other instead of supplanting each other at the level of the communities where the greatest need exists,” he said.
Meanwhile, in her address, Elizabeth Cox, the President of the Rotary Club of Georgetown, declared that the policies and agenda of the Club will now be guided by the charge that the Head of State has given.
Granger was also inducted as a Paul Harris Fellow, during the evening’s proceedings. The Club’s past president, Errol Cheong said that Rotary bestows the Paul Harris Fellow on a person whose life, in its estimation, demonstrates a shared purpose with its foundation and objectives. Granger, he said, exemplifies these qualities and the Club is honoured to bestow the title upon him. Paul Harris was the founder of the Rotary Club.