Months after the government embarked on the distribution of a flood relief cash grant to framers across Guyana who were devastated by the 2021 May/June rain, Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha on Tuesday disregarded claims of discrimination against non-supporters of the government.
It was Shadow Agriculture Minister Khemraj Ramjattan, who during the ongoing budget debates, took to the floor during his presentation to peddle the claim of discrimination.
He accused the government of building resentment among the citizenry by doling out the cash grants to its supporters while ignoring persons affected in the opposition strongholds. Ramjattan also urged the government to release the names and addresses of the people who benefited from the relief.
In response, Minister Mustapha in his presentation, said some 570 villages have already benefited from the flood relief cash grant. The government said some $7 billion were done in payments to farmers and households for flood relief assistance to recover from the floods.
To prove that the government did not only respond to its supporters but to all Guyanese, Mustapha read several ‘thank you’ letters written to him and the President.
The first letter was from the Chairman of the International Decade of People of African Descent Assembly, Vincent Alexander.
“Please accept my appreciation with following through on the commitment from the Ministry of Agriculture to offer flood relief to our members,” Alexander reportedly wrote.
Mustapha also read letters from the Victoria Community Development Council.
“We have friends in each and every corner of this country… you think you control these people but not anymore. They are coming to us because we helped them,” the Agriculture Minister told the House as he responded to what he said were inaccuracies being peddled by the APNU+AFC Opposition.
Mustapha also read letters from the Ithaca Community and Cooperative Society and the Golden Grove/ Nabacalis Farmers Association where they thanked the government for the flood assistance.
“We have no apologies to assist these farmers.”
The distribution, however, has not been without challenges as there have been many reports of persons inflating the damage they suffered from the floods.
The Agriculture Ministry has since established an official register to ensure complete transparency.