Region One Opposition MP Cox agitates for hinterland development projects

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Region One Parliamentarian Ronald Cox on Monday clamored for hinterland development projects, lamenting the fact, for example, that promised emergency works to roads at Wauna and Barabina has been stalled.

“Besides slush mud being spread across this road, Mr Speaker, it has become worse with no sign of major works in progress,” Cox, from Region One, said about the road at Wauna. He was speaking during his participation in the 2023 budget debate.

In September last year, the Department of Public Information (DPI) had reported that the road would be repaired at a cost of $51.1 million and should have been completed by the end of the year. The contract was awarded to Supreme Contracting Supplies.

“We engage the people, listen to them and respond to their needs. So, Wauna, your days of shake-up, bruck up, belly ache, headache going through the road is coming to an end, because your government is giving you a brand-new access road,” DPI quoted Minister of Public Works Bishop Juan Edghill as saying.

In the National Assembly on Monday, Cox claimed that it was only after several posts on Facebook, and being bombarded by officials that the contractor decided he will start moving equipment to the location.

Cox also drew attention to the promised repairs to the road at Barabina. In August last year, Minister Edgehill announced a $130 million contract to fix the road.

“We do not doubt the minister, but has the works started?”

The sum of $5 billion is budgeted for hinterland road development.

In his budget debate presentation, Cox said the government must accept areas of weakness and address them in front of Guyana, that is, in the National Assembly.

He also called for policies and programmes that really benefit indigenous people, accusing the government of making “allocations for hinterland and indigenous communities seem like a well-regurgitated script from previous budgets.”

“It is a known fact that Guyana is poised for economic takeoff and the extent to which we can do so is dependent on the choices we make and our ability to collectively harness the skills and talents of our people in a bid to achieve progress and development,” he stated.

In his budget speech, Minister of Finance Dr Ashni Singh detailed plans for Amerindian and hinterland development.

He announced that in 2023, a sum of $2.7 billion is budgeted for the Amerindian Development Fund. This will see continued training in tourism and hospitality, business development plans, garment construction, ATV, and small engine repairs, as well as provisions for Presidential Grants to 233 communities. Several commercial, eco-tourism, agricultural and infrastructural projects are also catered for.

In 2023, the government plans to roll out its 30,000 solar PV home lighting systems to the hinterland and riverain areas, for which $1.8 billion is budgeted.

In addition, an amount of $500 million has been budgeted to advance Amerindian Land Titling activities.

The Finance Minister had also stated that in the interest of advancing the food security and agri-business agenda, the government will, in partnership with the private sector promote hinterland agriculture for food security and self-sufficiency, as well as to meet the needs of markets beyond the local community.

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