‘The work we do speaks for itself’ – Dr Persaud defends $48.3B allocated to her ministry

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Minister of Human Services and Social Security Dr. Vindhya Persaud hinted at plans to revamp the Palms Geriatric Home in Georgetown once a new $172 million elderly care facility at Enmore, East Coast Demerara (ECD), is built.

Dr. Persaud spoke during the ongoing budget debates in the National Assembly on Thursday; she was the first government speaker of the day.

Those debates follow the presentation of Guyana’s first trillion-dollar budget last week by Finance Minister Dr. Ashni Singh.

And in her spirited presentation, the Human Services Minister spoke extensively about the projects and programmes implemented by her ministry that target various vulnerable groups be it children, women, persons with disabilities and the elderly.

Responding directly to concerns raised by Opposition Parliamentarian Natasha Singh- Lewis, Dr. Persaud assured persons that the Human Services Ministry is implementing new projects and sustaining existing ones that cater to the needs of elderly citizens.

It is for that reason, she said, a new elderly care facility is being constructed at Enmore.

Opposition Parliamentarian Natasha Singh- Lewis during her presentation of the 2024 budget debates (Photo: News Room/ January 25, 2024)

Amid loud heckling from Opposition Parliamentarians that this new facility will be located some distance away from the existing one, Dr. Persaud said persons will be moved to the Enmore home and she alluded to a forthcoming revamping of the Palms in Georgetown.

She said the Palms “has absorbed so much” with repairs done over the years and that facility is “something to look at.”

The Palms was established in 1874. It is funded by the Government of Guyana and provides 24-hour nursing care and other services to elderly citizens.

Outside of support ventures for elderly citizens, Dr. Persaud made it clear that several other ventures are being supported through the $1.146 trillion budget. Those ventures include the construction or rehabilitation of much-needed facilities like the Enmore home.

According to her, the Sophia children’s facility will be revamped this year and a “model” residential facility for children with disabilities will be constructed. The Mahaica Girls’ Home will get $37 million for a “complete rehabilitation” while a $53 million Juvenile Justice Centre is being built.

“The work that we do speaks for itself,” Dr. Persaud said in defence of the $48.3 billion allocated to her ministry.

Aside from the construction of new facilities, Dr. Persaud posited that her ministry is working towards addressing key issues like domestic violence, trafficking in persons and homelessness.

During her presentation, Opposition Parliamentarian Singh-Lewis, who has shadow responsibility for the social services sector, said there are several societal issues that demand increased attention from the government.

She also called on the government to focus more on the “eradication of homelessness” in Guyana and suggested that more homeless shelters be constructed locally.

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