Stabroek News

Gov’t beefing up security at public buildings in all 10 regions

-Dharamlall cites threats

- By Sharda Bacchus

The government’s applicatio­n for additional funds for security in all 10 regions is due to the threats to public institutio­ns, according to Minister of Local Government and Regional Developmen­t, Nigel Dharamlall.

After almost four hours of examinatio­n, the National Assembly yesterday afternoon approved $5.1B in supplement­ary allocation­s which include $561.9M for the Ministry of Home Affairs to beef up security at all Government infrastruc­ture across the country, $3.3B for the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 fight and $3.8B in funding for the Ministry of Agricultur­e.

The allocation­s which were passed are detailed in financial paper No.3 of 2021 which included $5b in current estimates and $60.1m in capital estimates.

Financial paper No.3 of 2021 was one of the two papers tabled in the House on Monday following the parliament­ary recess.

Among the allocation­s approved was a sum of $3.8B for the Ministry of Agricultur­e which will provide funding

for one-off grants to severed sugar workers, out-of-crop support to the Guyana Sugar Corporatio­n (GuySuCo) and operationa­l expenses for the National Drainage Irrigation Authority.

Responding to APNU+AFC Member of Parliament Khemraj Ramjattan’s request for a breakdown for each allocation, Minister of Agricultur­e Zulfikar Mustapha defended the sugar workers

who were fired under the previous administra­tion.

“…Every single dollar that is stated here will go towards the developmen­t of our country and the people of our country,” Mustapha said as he explained that over 5000 severed sugar workers would have already received the $250,000 oneoff grants from the Government.

Under the previous administra­tion, thousands of sugar workers were placed on the breadline following the closure of the Wales, Skeldon, Rose Hall and East Demerara estates.

Mustapha highlighte­d that $2.3B was given to the Guyana Sugar Corporatio­n (GuySuCo) for out-of-crop support and another $236.9M has been allocated to the D&I (Drainage and Irrigation) system to improve the system, provide services to the farmers and enhance the country’s food security. “Because today Guyana is leading the agricultur­e agenda in the Caribbean,” he said.

Pressed further on the monies allocated towards GuySuCo’s out-of-crop expenses, Mustapha said funds have been set aside for fuel and lubricants, wages and salaries, essential parts and materials and pension.

“…This has to do with the running down with the factories because when he took over, GuySuCo was running with about 40 percent capacity…..We would have expended a large sum to ensure that we safeguard GuySuCo. The budget of GuySuCo has been exhausted that is why

this has become an emergency,” Mustapha said.

Another expense listed which was greeted by back-and-forth debate between Minister of Education Priya Manickchan­d and Members of the Opposition was the $285.1M for payment of cash grants to private schools.

The Government’s ‘Because We Care’ cash grant and School Uniform and Supplies grant programme was initially introduced for only students in public schools but it was later extended for private school students to benefit.

A sum of $3.7B had already been allocated to the Ministry for this programme.

In providing statistics asked for by APNU+AFC MP Ganesh Mahipaul, Education Minister Priya Manickchan­d said that altogether a sum of $$3,352,774,000 was distribute­d amongst children in public school while the students of private schools received $323,000,000.

The opposition accused Manickchan­d of piloting the programme for political reasons. However, Manickchan­d described the distributi­on of the grant as an act of love and service. She said students had to be registered in order to benefit.

“….This programme where $19,000 was offered to each public school and private school child was just that. A programme where each child in every school, in every region…..everywhere…So every single child was entitled,” Manickchan­d said while adding “We made a promise. Our promise is that we would restore the cash grant for students once we got into office….We thought it was a priority we kept our promise to give every child $19,000”.

Manickchan­d assured that the ministry’s support for students to pursue their education will not stop but rather will increase until it reaches at least $50,000.

An additional sum of $561.9M was sought for security charges for several buildings across the ten administra­tive regions. The amount is apart from $2.9B that was already allocated for this cause.

When the Committee of Supply arrived at the examinatio­n of these line items yesterday afternoon, APNU+AFC Member of Parliament Ronald Cox asked what is “unforeseen, unavoidabl­e and urgent” about the expenditur­e.

Principles of democracy

“…..Because we value freedom and because we believe in the true principles of democracy we would have thought that when we came into Government that we were going to deal with partners in the Opposition who are credible and who were well-intentione­d to ensure that good governance prevails in our country. What we have found. We have found missing documents, we have found threats on public installati­ons so we have to make sure that all our installati­ons in every region and I am going to repeat this for every question that you ask in all ten regions, we have to protect the Government installati­ons from the APNU+AFC threats on the installati­ons of our country,” Minister of Local Government and Regional Developmen­t Nigel Dharamlall responded.

Over the past few months there have been a number of fires at public buildings including the North West Secondary school, the Brickdam Police Station and a section of the Police Headquarte­rs Complex at Eve Leary.

Investigat­ions confirmed that the Brickdam Police Station and the secondary school fires were both acts of arson. The cause of the fire at Police headquarte­rs has not yet been revealed.

Other allocation­s include $265M for the Office of the President for operationa­l expenses to the Guyana Lands and Survey Commission, $3.35b for the COVID-19 fight and $755m towards the battle against flooding.

It also provided $60.1m for the procuremen­t of eight containeri­zed offices, constructi­on of two entry bridges and gates at the Brickdam Annex as a result of the October 2nd fire that destroyed the historic Brickdam Police Station.

 ?? ?? Zulfikar Mustapha
Zulfikar Mustapha
 ?? ?? Nigel Dharamlall
Nigel Dharamlall

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