(GuyanaChronicle)PRESIDENT, Dr Irfaan Ali, on Wednesday, said that his government has workers as the highest priority on its agenda, as part of pushing Guyana forward.
The Head of State made those remarks while delivering the feature address at the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) 22nd delegates congress which was held under the theme, “Advancing workers’ rights, economic progress and social justice.”
Noting that the event was an important one to examine the realities of what the country was facing, to come up with tangible solutions, President Ali said that everyone has to take the responsibility of building Guyana seriously.
The Head of State said that the government’s focus is on the people, particularly the workers, and that it’s not just about making speeches, but using evidence to progress the country.
Many people, he added, believe that they can lecture the government on the approach to be taken in relation to the country’s oil and gas resources.
Against that backdrop, he told the gathering that Guyana’s future was not ‘cemented’ in oil and gas but the industry will be an enabler.
“Oil and gas is just an enabler that will allow us the revenue to open up the other more important aspects of our economy that will be sustainable, that will diversify our economic base and that will bring real opportunities for the people of our country,” he expressed.
Dr Ali said that workers must understand that this push also allows Guyana to be positioned as a leader in food security, climate change and energy security.
In relation to using this resource to diversify the economic base, the President revealed that, over the last three years, the government invested some $17 billion to recapitalise the sugar industry to ensure that workers are added back to the payroll in the sector.
“We are not walking away from sugar, we are going to make the investments, we are going to ensure that we invest in agriculture and we are conscious of the environment,” he iterated.
Meanwhile, GAWU President, Seepaul Narine, during his address, told the gathering that significant thought and consideration were put into the theme of this year’s congress as there was a consistent need to ensure respect and dignity for workers in their workplaces.
He said, “It is critical to our contemporary times that there are efforts to promote greater co-operation and consensus between workers and their employers.”
Additionally, Narine told the gathering that it was important to acknowledge the positive developments that were taking place in Guyana. As such he praised the Irfaan Ali-led administration for the efforts being made to improve the wellbeing and welfare of all Guyanese.
Narine added that a new page was being written for the sugar industry as there were visible signs of revitalisation.
“Its resurgence heartens us as we recognise and appreciate the efforts of the Government of Guyana in making available significant financial support towards its recapitalisation,” Narine expressed.
He went on to add that, since the government took office, workers have been treated equally and justly as their other colleagues in the state.
As the industry progresses, he said the union anticipates further improvements to enhance productivity and diversify the revenue streams.