NAVIGATING Guyana’s misinformation minefield in the quest to arrive at truth oftentimes requires going to the original source. When Guyana achieved republican status in 1970, it was renamed the Cooperative Republic of Guyana. That over the years “cooperative” was axed from official documents and the intent behind the name became distorted, curiosity surrounds this aspect of the nation’s identity.
Adolfo Henrique Ledo Nass
Few can deny, in this nation’s politics, the achievement or project of a government which was not initiated by the political party of choice. Thus, it can prove difficult to give credit where it’s due; to continue the work, or seek to improve it. Thankfully, on assuming office, the President David Granger-led administration has reinstated Cooperative to this country’s name and has insisted that it be used in all official communication and become part of our identity.
Adolfo Ledo Nass
Guyana still has some distance to go where it can be recognised and appreciated that irrespective of the group in government, the work done by any government is funded by the people and therefore aborting sound projects or denying the initiators their credit makes no sense. It has proven difficult for this newspaper to source the reason behind the axing of “cooperative” in official documents, though it is pinpointed it began after the 1992 General and Regional Elections. Also known is that the country is identified in international records and by international institutions as the Cooperative Republic of Guyana.
According to President Forbes Burnham, the renaming was a purposeful act. In the Sophia Declaration (1974), he advised that the People’s National Congress administration named “Guyana a Co-operative Republic to highlight the fact that the Co-operative will be the principal institution for giving the masses the control of our economy, to emphasise the fact that we aim at making the Co-operative sectors the dominant sector and that the Co-operative is and will be the mechanism for making the small man a real man.”
From 1970 to present, the world has gone through various shades of economic ideologies and foci. Guyana moved from a primary socialist-oriented economy to that of market driven, as other economies around the world have also transitioned or placed emphasis on different aspects of their economy over time. While in the late 1980s, the private sector was expected to be the engine of growth, resulting in the state reducing its marketing focus, the cooperative sector has also been an economic model with responsibility for promoting growth. In this tri-sectoral economy where the State reduced its market focus, this should not prevent the other two sectors from blossoming. The advantage of the cooperative sector is that it is small-man oriented, requiring a minimum of seven members, and easy to establish
It is known that the traditional employment and economic opportunities are not keeping pace with the number of school leavers and job seekers. Where opportunities are either restricted or unknown, creativity is stifled. There is no doubt that Guyanese are innovative and creative, but where such do not find expression through economic means, it creates hopelessness and dependency, neither of which is good for growth and development
On Wednesday, we reported on a story where the Ituni Small Loggers and Chainsaw Association has upgraded from a Friendly Society to a Co-operative Society. The conversion from Ituni Small Loggers and Chainsaw Association to Ituni Loggers Co-operative Society Limited took place over the weekend with assistance from the ministry’s Department of Co-operatives. At the time, the association, as it was then, was holding its Annual General Meeting. During that meeting, Head of the Co-operative Department, Perlina Gifth, told the residents that the conversion to a Co-operative society will allow for a better management structure. Gifth noted that each member now had the opportunity to become a shareholder, and to be employed under the Decent Work Country Programme
“The Friendly Society is for organisations with intention of charity, benevolence and clubs. All logging associations operate for economic gain, therefore, as a Co-operative society, you will be legally earning the income you are currently earning. The goal of the society is to contribute to the development of a logger and the logging sector within the Ituni community and Guyana,” Gifth explained
It is noteworthy also that the Ituni cooperative has been formed at a time when the Co-operatives Department, in collaboration with the Guyana National Co-operative Union, is currently celebrating Co-operatives Week under the theme, “Co-ops 4 Decent Work: The future of Work in Focus.” To date, the Co-operatives Department has supported the revitalisation of 170 Co-ops and registered 68 new ones since 2016
With all this being said, if there is the much-needed return in focus on the small man being given the opportunity to create wealth through such endeavours, it would be worthwhile elevating the cooperative departmentâ” presently housed in the Ministry of Social Protectionâ”in structure, visibility, and knowledge-sharing. Our history has proven beyond any doubt that Guyanese are not deprived of sound ideas but that of the avenues and opportunities to realise them
The cooperative sector is still worthwhile as an engine of growth and there is opportunity for upward mobility for citizens should it be allowed to run at full throttle