President David Granger addressing senior citizens at the annual luncheon hosted by First Lady Sandra Granger at State House

–as First Lady fetes senior citizens for Christmas

By Wendella Davidson

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PRESIDENT David Granger on Friday joined First Lady Mrs. Sandra Granger in hosting the traditional luncheon for senior citizens and their caregivers at the Baridi Benab on the grounds of his official residence, State House.

He also used the occasion to remind his guests that the new year will see the launch of the promised ‘Decade of Development’, which begins in 2020 and runs until 2029, and to encourage them to take heart as we’re about to come to the end of what has been a long and challenging year.

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The hosting of the luncheon is the First Lady’s way of reminding the seniors during this Christmas Season that they have not been forgotten, and that their contribution to the country’s development has not gone unnoticed, and is greatly appreciated.

First Lady Sandra Granger chatting with one of the seniors at the event

Said President Granger in brief remarks to resounding applause: “This is not an idle boast; it is not an electioneering slogan. We know there is petroleum, and that petroleum belongs to you. It belongs to your children; it belongs to every Guyanese. The Government will ensure that money accrued will be used for the benefit of all Guyanese. Guyanese must never be poor again.”

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And, touching on a subject that is no doubt close to the heart of many of his guests, he announced that come 2020, senior citizens stand to benefit from an additional increase in old age pension.

Before the Coalition government took office in 2015, government pensioners used to receive a paltry sum of $7, 500, but as of now, that amount stands at $20, 500.
As President Granger told his guests, having worked hard all their lives, they are entitled to a comfortable retirement.

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And speaking of retirement, he encouraged those seniors present to try to make some time to visit places and other communities within the country; a country he lovingly and proudly described as “the biggest and most beautiful in the Caribbean.”

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He also evoked much laughter when he jocularly said that while he does not despise other countries that are not so blessed, he cannot help but remember that Guyana is not an island, as it is so large that several islands can comfortably fit inside “and still have space to stretch out your foot.”

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Touching briefly on his vision for the country, President Granger said the Government is trying to build an education system which encourages young people to qualify themselves to run this country. “We have to prepare them to possess this country and develop it for their children and grandchildren,” he said, adding: “What we have here, we will develop, so what we leave behind will not be a legacy, but a testimony of what we have done.”

Regarding the upcoming celebration of the 50th Anniversary of this country as a Republic, President Granger promised the seniors that for that occasion, they will be hosted once again “at Government House”.

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Some of the participants in the beautifully-decorated Baridi Benab (Photos courtesy of the Ministry of the Presidency)

He closed by taking the opportunity to wish everyone a Happy Christmas, and urged that the message of peace and goodwill be taken to all Guyanese. He also lingered a while as he personally greeted all present.
The First Lady was assisted in entertaining her guests and spreading Christmas cheer by Ministers Volda Lawrence, Annette Ferguson and Valerie Garrido-Lowe, daughter Afuwa Granger, members of the Luminous Women’s Group, and cadets of the Felix Austin Training College of the Guyana Police Force.When the event first started a few years ago, it used to be held under a tent on the northern side of the lawns of State House, but President Granger earlier said he felt the Baridi Benab to be more appropriate.
As had obtained on the previous occasions, `Ras Camo’ ensured that the festive spirit was truly alive, as he tantalisingly belted out Christmas tunes on his steel pan.

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