Cheddi Jagan 1960
Minister of Trade and Industry, Hon. Dr. Cheddi Jagan, fresh from his fruitful trip to London, New York, Cuba and Venezuela, explained the results of his mission in a radio broadcast last Saturday night [3 September]. The text of the Majority Party 1eader’s speech follows: (Thunder, 10 September 1960);
Source: Ceddi Jagan - Guyana's Hero;
© Nadira Jagan-Brancier.
Fellow Guianese, Ladies and Gentlemen:
I am glad to be back from what I regard as one of my most fruitful trips abroad. I would like to take this opportunity to let you know about some of the discussions which I have had and the results of these talks.
First, you would no doubt like to hear about electricity. Well, at last we have got this problem licked. Agreement was reached in London, as you have already heard, for the takeover of the Demerara Electric Company’s undertaking.
In addition, we have also settled the question of purchasing additional plant to take care of our expanded needs for the next five to six years. We have bought diesel equipment as an emergency measure. Every effort will be made, we have been assured, to get these into the country by Christmas. The large steam plants are expected about two years from now. But, we were told by the manufacturers that they would try to get them a bit earlier, sometime between eighteen months to two years.
The whole deal, that is the takeover of the Demerara Electric Company and additional equipment including new and improved distribution lines, is likely to cost about $18 million. Now, you will remember sometime age I referred to package deal arrangements. Well, this one is certainly a package. The Demerara Electric Company is being taken over on credit terms to be paid over a period of five years.
Barclays Development Corporation will advance a sum of a little over $1 million to make a dawn payment for the takeover of the Demerara Electric Company. A consortium made up of Associated Electrical Industries, Taylor Woodrow and International Combustion Company will provide the additional equipment and do the construction and civil engineering works. And Barclays Bank DC & O generously agreed to lend us a sum of $5 million to help pay for part of the whole deal.
We are heartened by the confidence which this bank which has been so long with us and is in an excellent position to judge, has shown in this Government.
It is expected that the public corporation to be formed to run the new undertaking will be able to pay for the whole project out of profits within ten years; that is, for the takeover and for the additional plant and equipment which will be required. ...
You may also wish to know that it was agreed that the new Corporation to be formed will be run on strictly sound business lines without any political interference. It was also agreed while the loan remains unpaid that the International Power Company in Canada, the owners of the Demerara Electric Company, and the Consortium will be permitted to nominate directors to the directorate of the Company.
In addition, the Manager will be appointed to the Corporation with the concurrence of the parent Canadian Company. The Manager will be entitled to seek advice from time to time from the Montreal Engineering Company who are the technical consultants in Canada to the Demerara Electric Company.
I am sure that you are very glad that we have finally settled this problem which has been plaguing us for some time. Now that the takeover of the Demerara Electric Company has been completed we will move on to the development of rural electrification. In addition, all over the city will enjoy much cheaper power which will be a real stimulus to industrialisation. . . .
While in London, I took up with Sir Jock Campbell the question of cane farming. I pointed out to him that in the West Indies a large part of the total sugar production, in some cases as high as 40 to 50 percent, came from cane farmers. I asked him to see if it was possible that as a beginning at least 10 percent of total production, instead of the present figure of about 2 percent, be allocated to our farmers. He has promised to look into this matter.
From London Mr. D’Andrade and I travelled together to New York. He proceeded to Washington to iron out certain details with respect to our application for a loan from the World Bank and to take the opportunity to have talks also with US Government officials. I stayed on in New York and had discussions at the United Nations Headquarters with representatives of United Nations Technical Assistance Administration. The discussions covered a wide range of subjects.
A hydro-electric expert is to come out shortly. He will do a preliminary survey, evaluate what has been done thus far and make recommendations as to what should be done in the future. You are also aware that we have now become an associate member of the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America or ECLA, as it is called. They are being requested to put on their time table a visit to British Guiana of their water resources and pulp and paper teams.
We are also seeking experts to help us to revise our mining laws and to give us guidance in the framing of up-to-date petroleum mining legislation.
We are also seeking assistance for the establishment of a Central Ban k for British Guiana. An attempt will be made to see whether some one can be sent out to look into this question.
Our discussion also covered the question of the shortage of adequately trained personnel. Agreement was reached to help us to fill this gap. It is likely that someone in the Administration Division of the United Nations Technical Assistance Administration will be visiting here to have preliminary talks and that we may shortly thereafter get a team to embark on a course of training in administration for our civil servants.
I must say that from my talks at United Nations Headquarters I gathered the definite impression that the United Nations is willing to go out of its way to give us assistance. In fact, many of the items I took up would normally have to go in for the next year’s programme but efforts are being made to see if they can be financed as an emergency measure from the Special Contingency Fund.
As a result of our efforts we can say that we have done thus far very well with the United Nations. As you know, we have already got nearly $1 million from the UN Special Fund for siltation study and a soil survey study.
From New York I went to Cuba. I did not plan going there, but since it was enroute to Venezuela which I had intended to visit, I decided to stop in. I wanted to find out what was being done about the timber proposition and whether it was possible to find an immediate market for our surplus rice. It was good that I went.
You will remember that a few months ago three representatives came down here to make a timber survey. Cuba’s imports of timber at the moment amount to about $23 million per year. You will recall that I mentioned sometime ago that we will be prepared to consider sympathetically, firstly the granting of a lease to the Cubans on the same terms and conditions as we grant leases to others, or secondly, to form a joint company with the Cubans.
The Cuban Government, however, does not want to take advantage of either of these two proposals. They said quite frankly to me that these proposals smacked of imperialism. They did not want in any way to exploit our manpower or material resources. They were prepared to help as far am they could. They offered to make available over the next two years a loan to the equivalent of about $8.5 million. This loan will be repayable over ten years after the project gets underway. The rate of interest will be 2 percent and payment will be made in timber products. Technical assistance will be provided if we require it, to help us to work out the details of such a project.
They have also agreed to finance the external costs of the first stage hydro electric project at Tiger Bill which is estimated to cost about $30 million.
These two projects are going to be the beginning of the realisation of some of our dreams. As regards the future development of British Guiana I have two dreams 3/4 one based on timber and the other on bauxite as raw materials. I have in mind two giant industrial complexes.
The first would be based on wood which covers so much of our territory and which at the moment is lying idle and in many instances has to be got rid of by burning. Such an industrial complex based on wood can produce not only sawn lumber but also pulp, paper, cellulose, charcoal and many other chemicals which, as by-products, can be utilised as raw materials for other industries. I have seen such an industrial complex in Germany. It is only left for us now to get technical experts to work out in great detail such a project.
The other industrial complex which I have in mind is the one which will permit of, after the installation of hydro-electricity, the smelting of our bauxite into aluminium and the setting up of a whole series of ancillary industries which will utilise pig aluminium as a raw material. By ancillary industries I mean pre-fabricated buildings, roofs, pots and pans, motor car blocks and bodies and the whole range of other articles which are fabricated from aluminium.
The Cuban deal points the way for payment to be made not in hard cash but by the sale of our own products.
The Cubans have also promised to give us technical assistance in other fields. I am thinking particularly of light cigarette tobacco which it is felt can be produced here. With such technical and financial help, we are now on the threshold of real industrial development of our country.
By the way, the Cubans have also agreed to purchase any surplus rice which we may have. They have been purchasing rice from the US at a price higher than we now get from the West ladies. They are prepared to open their markets for our rice and to give us the advantage of a reasonable price.
You may wish to know that during my stay in Cuba I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Nicholson, the Acting Director of Medical Services, who was attending a medical conference in Havana
In Venezuela I had discussions with Government official on several questions about economic cooperation generally between our two countries, about a visit of a combined economic, technical and commercial mission to British Guiana, about the three fishing boats recently seized, and about the sale of paddy.
The visit of the mission is likely to take place soon and it is hoped it will come off at about the same time as History and Culture Week.
I raised the issue in the Ministry of External Relations about the fishing boats seized in Venezuelan waters. Unfortunately, it was not possible for me to see the Minister of Interior because
of the political crisis which developed during the last day of my visit there. However, I am told that there is every hope that the boats will be released.
I have also had discussions to see if it will be possible to permit of certain courtesies to be extended by both Governments. In such a case fishing boats which find themselves in difficulties will not be held up so long as they are not engaged in any contraband activities.
About the possible sale of paddy to Venezuela, the Venezuelan authorities are anxious to have trade relationship developed with British Guiana. But, at the present time, they are not in need of paddy. They informed me that they will be in a position by February to say precisely what are their needs with respect t the importing paddy from outside sources.
In Trinidad, I had discussions with Dr. Carl La Corbiniere, Minister of Trade and Industry, on matters relating to industrial development and incentive legislation for the area. I took up the question also of an early meeting for the Rice Conference which is to decide two questions, firstly, the prices to be paid next year, and secondly, the extension of the contract. As you are no doubt aware, the contract comes to an end in December 1962 but provision is made for a review every year to see if it should be extended.
I have returned home feeling a definite sense of satisfaction 3/4 satisfaction that people, even in difficult positions as the Cubans, are willing to help. I feel a sense of exhilaration that we are now beginning to get all the loose ends together from which we can move ahead
In Cuba I felt thrilled and excited at the generous offer. But what do I find on my return? The same criticisms and misrepresentations amounting to direct lying, not easing up in any way, but actually becoming more intense. . . .
Before I arrived in London, very influential journals such as the Financial Times and the Observer carried statements, which were forwarded by local correspondents, that we were taking over the Demerara Bauxite Company. The gloom with which the local press greeted the announcement of the success of the electricity talks leads one to suppose that the local press would have preferred the talks to fail.
I am aware that the press is violently opposed to the Majority Party which I have the honour of leading. Considering the interest which the press represent, I do not see anything wrong with this. But what I consider wrong is the harm which the press is doing the country as a whole. By all means attack us but do not frustrate the national aspiration of the Guianese people.
So long as we are in the Government I ask that an objective rather than an emotional evaluation be made of all the things which we are pursuing and which we contemplate to do in the future.
Let us rid ourselves of emotional thinking. Let us look at the economic realities which today face not only our country but underdeveloped territories all over the world. Let us unitedly face these realities objectively and rationally. . . .