TODAY is Old Year’s Day or as some people say these days, New Year’s Eve. It’s the day when we look back on the past year with nostalgia or we think of the unfortunate experiences and the mistakes which we may have made. It’s the day when we also begin to think ahead to the new year—we make our new year’s vows, always vowing that the coming year be a better one. It’s indeed one of those special days, coming as it does after the Christmas season when families and communities paused for the annual festivities. On this day we prepare to ring in the new year either in church or at the parties and galas, but not before we cook the customary cook-up rice.
As a nation, we also bid farewell to 2017 and look forward to a more prosperous new year. We leave behind the errors and bad memories and take with us into the new year the positives we have carved out. It has been a trying year for our country, but we have come through the trials alive, if not as well as we had hoped. Our politics have not always served us well in 2017, but we are more than politics. We are a resolute people bound together by a shared history of pain and overcoming. It is that resoluteness that saw us through the rough waters of 2017.
Our government is no longer new—it has been in power now for over two years. Never has a government had to navigate so many obstacles in such short time. There have been stutters and stumbles, but the commitment to stay the course never waned in 2017. The rule of law was never infringed upon and human rights have not been abridged. We now live in a society in which the right to assemble and to free expression within the law is respected, as it should always be. Despite murmurs from within, the Coalition has remained intact—always a good sign in a society prone to fragmented politics.
The economy has not blossomed as fast as was expected, but it did not implode in 2017. While the poor continue to lag, there were signs that those who make macro-decisions are hearing and making moves to stem the tide. More must be done in the new year on this front—poverty cannot be an option for our short and long-term existence.
We have had the usual back and forth between the government and opposition—some of it not very pretty. But it is a good sign that our democracy has not been violated. No opposition activist was arrested and summarily jailed for anti-government activism. Our National Assembly, despite some instances of high drama, was not closed. We survived the challenges of 2017.
The Judicial Branch continued to discharge its constitutional duties in 2017 without fear or favour. Indeed, the courts have constantly ruled against the government. This is one of the highest democratic test—the ability of one branch to serve as an oversight of another branch. Our courts could be proud of its accomplishments in that area of its work.
No doubt much more needs to be done as far as the management of the justice system is concerned.
The year ended with the disclosure of the contract with Exxon Mobil. While the experts and commentators would dissect the content in the coming days and weeks, the fact that the government has put the contract into the public domain is a win for all those concerned with transparency, notwithstanding the delay. There will be the debate over whether Guyana stands to benefit enough financially—this is normal and good for our country.
Suffice to say, we now know that more resources are on the way that could only benefit the country in the long run. In that regard we ended the year on a relatively positive note.
So, as we move into 2018, let us give Guyana a chance to further and better realize its potential. More than ever before, we have a better chance to do so.