Granger to hold forum in Berbice to start 2019 Budget planning

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President David Granger Friday announced that he will convene a region-wide conference in Berbice before June 2018 with the aim of addressing several issues and to identify priority areas to be included in the 2019 National Budget which will be presented later this year.

The Ministry of the Presidency said the Head of State made the commitment as he engaged officials from the 16 Neighbourhood Democratic Councils (NDCs), the Regional Democratic Council (RDC), overseers and other regional officials of the East Berbice, Corentyne at a meeting with NDC representatives at the Fyrish Skills Training Centre.

The President explained that a new budget cycle begins on July 1, 2018, and, therefore, discussions which will take place at the forum will serve to identify priority areas for which provisions can be made in 2019 budget.

“We have to make sure that the NDC’S are not treated like some sort of sideshow or like they don’t matter; they matter. They are part of the government system which, as I said, is in three-tiered; central, regional and local and if you are part of the system and your foundation collapses, your structure will fall… I see the NDC as a dynamo not something passive, but an active organisation helping to develop these communities,” President Granger is quoted to have said.

President David Granger being shown a photograph of the poor quality of water residents are receiving at the Fyrish/Courtland area

The Head of State spoke of the need to improve the quality of representation at the level of the NDCs, noting that there are many areas that are neglected and as such, residents in those areas are disinclined to cooperate and to pay rates and taxes.

“I believe in regions, I believe in regionalism. We have to continue to do mobilisation on a regional basis regardless of NDC regardless of constituency, regardless of the political party, regardless of ethnicity. We have to mobilize this region so that there is the fullest participation,” the Ministry wrote.

According to the Ministry, some of the burning issues raised by the NDC officials include, solid waste management, the need for an updated property valuation scale (valuation was last done in the early 80s), an increased stipend for Councillors, which is currently a meagre $3,000 per month, better road infrastructure and street lighting, training for Councillors, issues with land, the need for better quality potable water services in certain areas, recreational and other opportunities for school children and youths and the need for greater cooperation among the NDCs, residents and the RDCs.

The Ministry said Ravindra Dass, an Overseer at the No. 52-74 NDC, called for an increase in Central Government subvention for his NDC since it is one of the largest in the country.

These little ones came out to the Fyrish Skills Training Centre to meet President David Granger and Minister of Education, Nicolette Henry

It further noted that Chairman of the Macedonia-Joppa NDC, Nabot Dean, spoke of the need for every NDC to be in possession of the plans or land layout maps for all of the villages within the various NDCs.

This, he said, will assist the NDC to monitor the land management system within the villages. “Too often, people are grabbing Government reserves and creating a lot of problems in these areas. We need to get these village plans so that we can identify the boundaries properly,” he said.

President Granger committed his Government to working with the local democratic organs to find workable solutions over the course of the next three months. He took the opportunity to call on the NDC officials to recommit to discharging their mandate, which is to provide basic services to the citizens of Guyana in an efficient manner. The President also reminded the local leaders that their performance will determine their re-election at this year’s Local Government Elections (LGEs).

Minister of Education, Nicolette Henry and Regional Executive Officer, Region Six Kim Williams-Stephens also attended the meeting.

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