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─Region Four to follow
More than 200,000 Region Four and Five residents are to start receiving the Government’s $25,000 per household COVID-19 relief cash grant over the next two weeks.
Minister of Local Government and Regional Development, Hon. Nigel Dharamlall made this disclosure during a meeting with the Region Four Regional Democratic Council (RDC) Thursday evening.
“Billion of dollars have already been injected in the economy as a result of this and within a week and a half Region Four will benefit. The Region itself is quite expansive in terms of the number of persons and I think the resources will have to be compressed in such a way that we spend enough quality time to deliver the resources to Region Four,” he said.
The Minister urged the Councillors to inform the residents about this development since hiccups are likely given the region’s population. Several teams, including police officers, will soon begin registering households.
The Minister cautioned the Councillors not to do any registration.
“It will only serve well if we work together so that people can genuinely get what they deserve,” he stated.
The Minister said the distribution will take a few weeks and should be completed before Christmas.
On September 7, President Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali announced that every household would receive the cash grant to cushion the effects of the pandemic. Distribution began on September 29.
Residents from Regions One, Seven, Eight and Nine were the first to benefit given the hinterland’s vulnerable economic state.
The Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development has called on the Region Four Regional Democratic Council (RDC) to consult with their constituency on projects and to serve them with integrity.
Minister Hon. Nigel Dharamlall delivered this charge during a meeting with the Councillors in the RDC’s Boardroom on Thursday. Minister within the MinistryHon. Anand Persaud also attended the meeting.
“There are issues in Region Four which I believe that we can overcome and from what I heard, there are issues relating to communication, misunderstanding of roles among different individuals. I hope that this afternoon we have been able to clarify what those roles are and who are the people accountable for those roles,” the Minister said.
He also said the resources provided to the Region needs to be used sensibly to cover a wider base. To accomplish this, Councillors must consult the citizens to prioritise work.
The Minister also disagreed that the RDC needed more staff.
“The number of staff does not increase your efficiency or effectiveness so that is a moot point until you can show the effectiveness and efficiency of your Department. Your efficiency is based on your ability and capability to do your work not the number of people,” he said.
To this end, Minister Dharamlall advised the RDC’s public works team to partner with the Ministry’s engineering service unit to fast-track their work.
He added that the Ministry will not process the Region’s 2021 budget without residents’ input.
“No longer will projects come to us without verification. We have to know that residents are committed to projects provided… You will need to work with the citizens to make sure these are the priorities they desire and then work with the administration to prioritise them,” he explained.
Concerning the administration’s 814 open bids for works, he instructed the evaluation team to meet more often, especially over this weekend, and to close them by Monday.
This will not only create more jobs, but will advance their work programme. Minister Dharamlall noted that the Region has only completed 26.6 per cent of its work programme.
Residents from Regions Two, Three, Four, Five and Six can expect to benefit from the installation of about 300 solar streetlights before year end.
This initiative is being undertaken through the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development’s Community Infrastructure Improvement Project (CIIP).
Coordinator of the Engineering Services at the Ministry, Mr. Naeem Khan told DPI that this intervention is the first phase of a much wider programme that will continue next year.
“The idea is to ensure that all communities have streetlights so that residents can be safe. We are looking to continue the programme with the intent of increasing the number of lights being installed moving forward. The programme as it is, we are looking at 5,000 streetlights over four years,” he said.
The Ministry is consulting with stakeholders to identify the communities severely affected by the lack of this utility. Each region will be given 58 lights during this phase of the project.
“We want to make sure it is strategically placed where it is most needed so we are currently assessing the regions, basically a night audit. So, coming out from that audit, it will pave way for where these lights will be placed,” Mr.Khan explained.
Since its establishment, the CIIP has benefited thousands of citizens and communities by enhancing safety and aesthetics and creating jobs.
-78 students to benefit
Students of Shea Primary School are set to enjoy additional hours of internet access as Government donates critical equipment for the village’s ICT hub.
Minister of Local Government and Regional Development, Hon. Nigel Dharamlall on Monday donated two 12V/200AH batteries and a solar charge controller to teachers of the school during a community engagement in the village.
Teacher Vilma Caitan, told DPI the equipment will significantly improve the WiFi connectivity since students received only two hours of WiFi use before the connection is lost.
“There are a lot of children who need to be doing research. Not only the students, teachers as well,” Ms. Caitan explained.
Grade Four Teacher, Ms. Serena Permanbuco also welcomed the donation. She said, “some of the parents have smartphones and they will be able to do some research based on the work for their children.”
Ms. Permanbuco, who is currently pursuing training through the Cyril Potter College for Education, said she intends to capitalise on the additional hours of internet access to complete her assignments in a timely manner.
Further, Toshao Mr. Ivor McBurney lauded the donation as a boost for communication between residents in the village and surrounding communities. The Toshao also pledged that the village would use the equipment with care.
Meanwhile, Regional Executive Officer for Region Nine, Mr. Carl Singh said the Regional Democratic Council (RDC) intends to donate a recently bought a laptop to the school to further enhance education delivery.
The printer bought by teachers to print additional learning material will also be supplied with ink from the RDC upon Ms. Caitan’s request.
During Minister Dharamlall’s community engagement a commitment was made to rehabilitate the Shea Primary School and to supply the village’s health centre with an additional bed.
After visiting Shea Village, the Minister led similar community consultations in Muraranau, Awaruwaunau and Achiwuib villages, which follows a series of similar engagements in the region at the weekend.
The Lethem Town Council (LTC) and the Rupununi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (RCCI) were on Tuesday urged to work towards the advancement of Upper Takutu – Upper Essequibo (Region Nine).
This was conveyed by Minister of Local Government and Regional Development, Hon. Nigel Dharamlall during separate engagements with the entities this week.
“I would like to extend the charge of His Excellency that we work for the development of all Guyanese,” Minister Dharamlall stated.
The Minister implored the Town Council to heighten its efforts to consult with citizens before the initiation of projects, rather than imposing initiatives that may not have the support of the Guyanese.
“As part of our budgetary process, there should be that evidence of consultation taking place where councilors go out and meet the people,” said Minister Dharamlall.
While reassuring the LTC of the Central Government’s support, the Minister was also quick to commend the body on being steadfast in their service to the township. The LTC was assured that it would be uplifted under the current Administration.
Nevertheless, the Council was urged to address a number of issues including but not limited to the provision of comfortable public accommodation for Amerindians, theft and Trafficking in Persons (TIP).
On the last, the Minister said Lethem should not bear the stain of such crimes against humanity and that perpetrators of such acts, like other crimes, should be brought to justice.
Concerning the derelict road network within the township, Minister agreed that much-needed repairs need to commence and he reminded the LTC that some of the works are to be initiated through the 2020 emergency budget, with more to begin in the following budget.
“I can commit to you that all of the roads in the town will be fixed,” the Minister stated.
Regarding the following meeting with the RCCI, the group was told Rupununi was a priority area for the investments the Government would like to make.
Minister Dharamlall also touted the Head of State’s plan of having decentralised investments. As such, he added that consultations will soon begin within the region.
The Minister also addressed a number of issues raised such as unreliable services from telecommunication providers and water and electricity rates for businesses.