‘Guyana still heal­ing’ -Nor­ton tells House

-de­cries qual­ity of work on Na­tional Aquatic Cen­tre

Stabroek News - - STABROEK NEWS -

Say­ing that Guyana is “still heal­ing,” So­cial Co­he­sion Min­is­ter Dr. Ge­orge Nor­ton told the Na­tional Assem­bly on Wed­nes­day that there will be more sen­si­ti­sa­tion ses­sions and other ini­tia­tives across the coun­try, in­clud­ing in schools, to fur­ther the process in 2019.

“This is the rea­son it is re­garded as a process,” said Nor­ton, who noted that co­he­sion can­not be achieved overnight.

Nor­ton, who was at the time con­tribut­ing to the bud­get de­bate, also out­lined plans for youth, sport and cul­ture for which he has min­is­te­rial re­spon­si­bil­ity.

He in­formed the House that since it was es­tab­lished in 2015, the De­part­ment of So­cial Co­he­sion has held a num­ber of train­ing pro­grammes, in­clu­sive of 14 in­ten­sive two-day Di­ver­sity Ed­u­ca­tion and In­clu­siv­ity ses­sions, where some 532 per­sons ben­e­fit­ted. Ad­di­tion­ally, 30 sen­si­ti­sa­tion ses­sions were held coun­try­wide and some 24,000 per­sons ben­e­fit­ted.

“The De­part­ment of So­cial Co­he­sion, en­abled by Cul­ture, Youth and Sport, would take Guyana to the place where we will be seen as a model for peace­ful co­ex­is­tence, strength­ened ties and re­la­tions at the com­mu­nity and na­tional lev­els; where Guyanese dis­play a will­ing­ness to con­trib­ute to na­tion build­ing, ir­re­spec­tive of our dif­fer­ences,” he said be­fore in­form­ing that in 2019 the De­part­ment will be hav­ing a greater role in schools.

The De­part­ment col­lab­o­rated with the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion and trained a num­ber of teach­ers in Au­gust.

“The Min­istry of So­cial Co­he­sion wants stu­dents to un­der­stand the value of be­ing good cit­i­zens. The aim is to teach them ways of ex­press­ing love, show­ing re­spect and im­part­ing knowl­edge about our multi-eth­nic so­ci­ety and con­tri­bu­tions made by our di­verse groups. Our over­ar­ch­ing ob­jec­tive is to nur­ture a cadre of chil­dren and young peo­ple who would have pos­i­tive at­ti­tudes and be­hav­iours to dif­fer­ences,” he said.

Nor­ton also said the pro­posed $1 bil­lion al­lot­ment for cul­ture will be used to ex­e­cute sev­eral planned pro­grammes.

He said the De­part­ment of Cul­ture will of­fer grants from the sum of $20,000,000 to both the cul­tural and cre­ative in­dus­tries. The grants, he said, would be man­aged by a com­mit­tee of ex­perts and el­i­gi­bil­ity for fund­ing would in­clude the de­vel­op­ment of lo­cal pub­li­ca­tions, plays, an­i­ma­tion and film; sup­port for the de­vel­op­ment of cul­tural cen­tres across the 10 Ad­min­is­tra­tive Re­gions; projects which sup­port the preser­va­tion of eth­nic/folk mu­sic, manuscripts, art and craft tech­niques which are unique to geo­graph­i­cal spa­ces; and in­no­va­tion in the gam­ing, an­i­ma­tion, fash­ion and culi­nary sec­tors. Projects would be eval­u­ated for vi­a­bil­ity, im­pact and sus­tain­abil­ity.

The De­part­ment has also bud­geted to spend $350 mil­lion on the re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion and upgrade of venues in re­gions one to ten for the host­ing of Repub­lic ju­bilee events in 2020.

With re­gard to youth, Nor­ton said the pri­mary fo­cus for 2019 will be on the im­ple­men­ta­tion of com­pre­hen­sive, strate­gic and sus­tained plans/pro­grammes and in­ter­ven­tions that will en­able them to ac­cess and com­pete fully in the job mar­kets and to also es­tab­lish their own busi­ness.

He added that every ef­fort will be made to en­sure that train­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties are made avail­able.

Not­ing that gov­ern­ment is com­mit­ted to en­hanc­ing lives through sport, he said that at­ten­tion has been given to the re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion and up­grad­ing of sport­ing fa­cil­i­ties.

He said that over $11 mil­lion has been spent on the up­grad­ing of fa­cil­i­ties and an­other $9 mil­lion has been spent on sev­eral grounds across Guyana that were out­fit­ted with flood­lights to fa­cil­i­tate longer play time.

Nor­ton stated that the Na­tional Sports Pol­icy is an im­ple­men­ta­tion pri­or­ity for the sec­tor in 2019.

Dur­ing his pre­sen­ta­tion, Nor­ton spoke of sub­stan­dard fa­cil­i­ties built un­der the for­mer gov­ern­ment and he said the cur­rent ad­min­is­tra­tion now has to spend large amounts of money to ad­dress the sit­u­a­tion. Above the shouts of the op­po­si­tion, he said that the Na­tional Aquatic Cen­tre “is all cracked up” due to poor con­struc­tion. As a re­sult of this, he said con­stant main­te­nance is re­quired

Op­po­si­tion Mem­ber of Par­lia­ment Neil Ku­mar be­gan hurl­ing com­ments at Nor­ton from the mo­ment he be­gan speak­ing about sports. To­wards the end of the min­is­ter’s pre­sen­ta­tion, Speaker Dr. Barton Scot­land warned Ku­mar that if he con­tin­ued with his dis­rup­tive be­hav­iour, he would not be al­lowed to re­main in the House.

Nor­ton, at the be­gin­ning of his pre­sen­ta­tion, in­sisted that the 2019 bud­get will keep Guyana on a path of change and trans­for­ma­tion.

Dr. Ge­orge Nor­ton

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