IMF team visits Amerindian Village, developmental projects

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See below full press release issued by the Ministry of Finance:

As the government continued to host the visiting International Monetary Fund’s (IMF’s) Deputy Managing Director (DMD) Mr. Kenji Okamura and other representatives of the Fund, including its Executive Director Mr. Afonso Bevilaqua, during their high-level two-day visit to Guyana, a team from the Ministry of Finance in collaboration with the Ministries of Amerindian Affairs, Health and Housing and Water led the officials on a visit to the Moraikobai Village in Region Five (Mahaica/Berbice), the construction site of the Paediatric and Maternal Hospital at Ogle and the Cummings Lodge Low Income Housing Development projects respectively.

IMF’s Deputy Managing Director, Mr. Kenji Okamura and Minister of Amerindian Affairs, Pauline Sukhai

During the visit to Moraikobai, which was led by Minister of Amerindian Affairs, Pauline Sukhai,  the DMD thanked the Indigenous people for their warm welcome and expressed his appreciation for the development he has witnessed during his visit to this country.

The village of Moraikobai is one of the indigenous villages which has seen major development through Government’s efforts, including through the setting up of a solar farm that assists in providing electricity and boosting internet service to the community.  Villagers also used the opportunity of the visit to showcase their craft and entrepreneurship ventures.

Moraikobai, is also one of the indigenous villages benefitting from Government’s Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) 2030. The LCDS 2030 allowed for $4.7 billion to be distributed to 242 Amerindian settlements countrywide as part of the first payment for carbon credits under a deal signed with Hess Corporation in 2022. Payments received at the end of 2023 was US$150 Million and the arrangement is worth a minimum of US$750 million until 2032.

Addressing the villagers during the visit, Minister Sukhai reiterated that the ongoing development in indigenous communities, including Moraikobai, is part of government’s commitment to advance Amerindian development in collaboration with the villages themselves, fostering also independence in the communities and ensuring that the villages have a say and contribute to their own development while Government will continue to facilitate such development and provide the necessary developmental resources.

Moraikobai is located 96 miles (154 km) from the convergence of the Mahaicony River which is accessible either through trails or from the Mahaicony Creek. It is the only indigenous village within the Mahaica-Berbice Region and is considered as nature’s ‘true paradise’. The community was initially called “Moracoba”, which was derived from two Arawak words: ‘mora’ meaning tree and ‘coba’ meaning stump.

Meanwhile, later in the day and led by the Ministry of Finance team and Advisor to the Minister of Health, Dr. Leslie Ramsammy, the IMF DMD visited the Paediatric and Maternal Hospital under construction at Ogle, East Coast Demerara. Among the specialised services the facility will offer is Paediatric Cardiac surgeries with a Paediatric Cardiac Unit included.

The establishment of the 256-bed Paediatric and Maternal Hospital in Guyana will be one of the specialised medical institutions that will transform the health sector not only locally but for the wider CARICOM region.

The project is being undertaken by VAMED Engineering GmbH, an Austrian-registered company with funding from the UK Export Finance (UKEF). The cost of the project is EUR €149 million. The design and construction of the hospital commenced on November 10, 2022, and is expected to be completed by October 15, 2025.

Following the stop at the construction site of the modern hospital and led by Minister in the Ministry of Housing and Water, Susan Rodrigues and the Finance team, the IMF’s DMD and accompanying officials also visited Government’s Low Income Development project at Cummings Lodge.

There, Minister Rodrigues explained how Government has constructed many of the low income and moderate homes with a number of persons already occupying the homes, while a large number of other lots in the areas have already been allocated to more Guyanese.

She also briefed the IMF officials on the incentives Government has been providing to allow for more affordable access to housing, including Mortgage Interest Relief (MIR), an increase in the low-income mortgage ceiling, tax waivers and Government’s collaboration with commercial banks for a reduction in the cost of borrowing, all with a view to encourage more citizens to invest in home ownership.

In Cummings Lodge, construction of more than 451 housing units is ongoing. This includes the construction of 327 Elevated 2-Bedroom Units, 49 Flat 3-Bedroom V-Roof Units, and 75 Flat 3-Bedroom Bungalow Units. More than 77 percent of the total unit stock in this area has been completed whilst the remaining units are currently in progress. In Cummings Lodge, infrastructure development works are being undertaken to the tune of G$1.8 billion.

The provision of affordable housing in Guyana remains a central focus of the Government of Guyana. This provision of housing solutions is being done via a combination of the allocation of serviced lots, and construction of several types of housing units backed by expansive infrastructure transformation in areas designated for residential development. It was in this regard that Minister Rodrigues also took the IMF team on a tour of Government’s most recently completed Heroes Highway. She also demonstrated to the team, the further linkages from this highway to the other development areas and housing schemes between the East Coast and East Bank of Demerara, all of which form part of Government’s broader infrastructural and transformational agenda.

Yesterday (Wednesday), President Irfaan Ali, Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo and Senior Minister in the Office of the President with Responsibility for Finance and the Public Service, Dr. Ashni Singh met with the IMF DMD and other officials of the Fund where high level discussions were held at the Office of the President. The visiting IMF team comprises Deputy Managing Director (DMD) Mr. Kenji Okamura, Executive Director Mr. Afonso Bevilaqua, Ms. Reshma Mahabir, Alternate Executive Director, Ms. Alina Carare, Mission Chief, and Mr. Chad Steinberg, Advisor to the Deputy Managing Director.

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