We Want to Work with the Diaspora, Says Prime Minister Mark Phillips

Prime Minister Mark Phillips with the staff of Hack’s Halal Restaurant which catered the event.

By Dr. Dhanpaul Narine

Guyana’s Prime Minister, Brigadier (Ret) Mark Phillips, said that Guyana is open for investment and is committed to working with the diaspora. He called on Guyanese to make use of the many opportunities that currently exist.

The Prime Minister made these remarks at a breakfast that was hosted in his delegation’s honor by the Richmond Hill-South Ozone Park Lions Club, in New York. The Club’s president Mr. Romeo Hitlall welcomed all. He stated that he was pleased to see the Prime Minister and his delegation that included Ambassador Sam Hinds, Minister of Local Government, Nigel Dharamlall, and Head of the Diaspora Unit, Rosalinda Rasul. Mr. Hitlall made the point that too often the diaspora has been left out of policy-making in Guyana, despite the promises. ‘We need to feel connected. We want to be involved but many feel that they are left out. This is why the visits are important,’ he said.

The meeting comprised members of the Richmond Hill-South Ozone Park Lions Club, members of the PPP/C for Guyana, Behari Lall of Caribbean Food Distribution, Attorney Todd Greenberg, Christian Latchana of All Purpose Electric, Ronald Singh and Meir Weinraub of Independent Computer Maintenance, Mike Sharma of Sharma Construction Group, Fazila Razack of Fazie Restaurant, Narzim Mohamed of Impulse Lounge NYC, Dimple Willabus, Candidate for Assembly District 59, Yvonne Sohan, Adrian Dial of Adrian Construction Group, Dr. Alex Singh of Little Guyana Pharmacy, Chitra Singh of Renee K. Productions, Nalini Racktoo of Hacks Halall Restaurant, and Gemini Lounge, and her entire staff, Farook Juman from WPAT 930 AM radio, and the vintage Naidoo Veerapen, who is secretary of the Richmond Hill-South Ozone Park Lions Club.

Iconic personalities: His Excellency Sam Hinds, Guyana’s Ambassador to Washington and Prime Minister Mark Phillips.

A number of remarks were made at the event. Ms. Rasul said that she was delighted to be in the New York diaspora and she would be pleased to listen to the concerns. She acknowledged that the diaspora has much to offer but there has to be a dialogue. ‘We are open to listen to all the challenges. I am here to listen and learn and to find out how we can work together to make Guyana a better place,’ she said. Minister Dharamlall spoke about his portfolio. He is the Minister of Local Government and Regional Development, with a substantial list of duties. He is responsible for the Regional Democratic Councils, and the towns. He handles a wide range of development issues at the local level. He believes that his Ministry is doing a great job, despite the challenges. He said that Guyana is moving forward, and urged the diaspora to get on board.

His Excellency, Sam Hinds, is Guyana’s Ambassador to the United States. He was Prime Minister for a number of years, and was President of Guyana, for a short while. He recalled his visit to New York in 1991 with Dr. Cheddi Jagan. It is important that the history be documented. At that time, the PPP/C was fighting for a return to democracy in Guyana. Dr. Jagan made a number of visits to New York to meet with the diaspora and a function was arranged to introduce Mr. Hinds. The late Ramesh D. Kalicharran, and businessman Yashpal Soi, teamed up and arranged a dinner, and fundraiser, for Dr. Jagan. At the 1991 function, Mr. Hinds was introduced to New Yorkers by Dhanpaul Narine. A substantial sum of money was raised to help the PPP/C in its campaign.

From left, Dr. Alex Singh, Prime Minister Mark Phillips and
Romeo Hitlall.

Ambassador Hinds said he found Dr. Jagan to be a humanitarian, a man that was committed to his people. When he became President, Dr. Jagan fought for a new human order, in which the resources of the world could be distributed fairly, to prevent hunger and poverty. Sadly, Dr. Jagan did not live to see his dream come to fruition, but his ideas continue to inspire others.

Prime Minister Mark Phillips said that the visit to New York was to connect with the Guyanese diaspora. He recalled his last visit five months ago when a number of meetings were held with various organizations. His message was ‘we are one Guyanese.
The biggest group of Guyanese live in North America. We want to connect with all of them, especially the children born from Guyanese parents.’

The Prime Minister also pointed out that Guyana is one of the fastest growing economies in Latin America with a GDP of over 45 per cent. It is the hot-spot for investment. He said that the PPP/C is working hard to make sure that the manifesto is implemented, and in a transparent manner.