‘Belladrum youth priority, not party office’ – Parag says blocked from engagement
The welfare of young people and other residents of Belladrum, Region Five (Mahaica- Berbice) is a priority for the government, Public Service Minister Sonia Parag said on Wednesday.
On Tuesday, the minister visited the community in an attempt to scope out a dilapidated building. Her intention, she said, was to identify what support government could provide and whether new training programmes could be established there.
This was part of a wider plan to engage with residents of the community more frequently, weeks after President Dr. Irfaan Ali met with them.
Upon arrival at the venue, however, she related that she was blocked from accessing the building by APNU+ AFC Parliamentarian Vinceroy Jordan.
Though the resident who asked that the dilapidated centre be visited was present and ready to scope out the premises with Parag, the minister said she was forced to grapple with hostility emanating from Jordan and other APNU+AFC activists.
She expressed her disappointment at this, particularly since she hoped to facilitate community development.
“The foundation upon which we operate is the people’s welfare and so our presence in any community across the country is to make a meaningful contribution,” the Public Service Minister explained.
She added that she had no ulterior motive.
But Jordan reportedly accused Parag of attempting to set up a new party office for the People’ Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C). Parag also recounted that he wanted any interventions in the community to be facilitated through the Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC) and the Community Development Council (CDC).
“I made my position clear that I have been dealing with people directly… if the residents make a request and we can help, (for) sure we will do that,” Parag said.
She added, “I don’t believe that I need to go through any authorities.”
The PPP/C, in a statement issued on Wednesday, attributed the blame for this worrying development to Opposition Leader Aubrey Norton.
According to the release, Norton has been “unabatingly setting a tone of racism and aggression towards the legitimately elected government and its officials”.
As such, the release stated that, “the PPP unequivocally condemns MP Jordan’s cowardly behaviour and bullying tactics towards Minister Parag and urge that it be similarly denounced by Civil Society and other national stakeholders.”