PNCR-1G Shadow Housing and Water Minister, Keith Scott has proposed that the Housing Ministry revamp fire hydrants in the city by developing a new system that allows access to water from the Demerara River.
Speaking on Tuesday, as the budget debate continued, Scott noted that in recent times, property, lives and jobs have been lost to fires and stated that many times the ability to fight fires was hindered by the absence of properly functioning hydrants. Further, Scott argued that the few hydrants that were functional “wasted thousands of gallons of treated water”. He said a new system to quickly deliver an unlimited supply of untreated water to extinguish fires that occurred in any part of the city needed to be set up.
Scott proposed that an urgent study be undertaken to develop a completely new system for the fire hydrants. He said new underground pipes should be laid, new hydrants installed and water accessed from the Demerara River via a series of booster pumps. He argued that in the long run this would prove to be a beneficial investment after the initial expenditure.
Further, the PNCR-1G MP criticized the operations of Guyana Water Inc (GWI), which he said was incapable of delivering quality service to the citizenry. He also charged that the entity was delivering more hefty bills to its customers than it was delivering water.
Noting that the company was spending 70 per cent of its income in paying for the supply of electricity from GPL, Scott recommended that the entity moves towards generating its own power in order to cut costs.
Scott also delivered stinging criticism against Housing and Water Minister Irfaan Ali over his management of the sector and suggested that the distribution of house lots was not done fairly. He said too the decision to buy land from GuySuCo was just simply an attempt to help resuscitate the ailing sugar corporation.
According to Scott, there was no value for money spent in this sector and despite large sums of money being churned out by the administration annually there was no visible improvement in the quality of lives of Guyanese.
Meanwhile, the expenditure in the health sector was of particular concern to PNCR-1G MP Dr George Norton who noted that the quality of health care in the country was not at the desired level.
During his presentation, Dr Norton described the public health care system as “bordering on a crisis situation” and said that based on its track record there seems to be need for a permanent investigations department attached to the sector given the high number of deaths that may have been caused by faulty health care. He said that in recent times there have been several such investigations which take a lengthy time to be completed, he identified the current probe into the death of former minister within the education ministry, Desrey Fox as an example.
Serious, mysterious deaths
Norton noted that $3.5 billion had been allocated to the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) in this year’s budget but raised questions about the quality of service offered at this institution. He noted that “there had been serious, mysterious deaths” at the hospital, which was the nation’s main referral centre.
He also said that the $300 million set aside towards child health in this year’s budget would help address the issue of child mortality in the country. He identified this as an area that continued to be one of huge concern.
Addressing the need of the ministry to retain the services of its doctors and nurses, Norton recommended that post-graduate opportunities be given so as to encourage these young professionals to remain and serve. He said these professionals were continuing to migrate and serve other territories and noted that one hospital in St Lucia was staffed almost entirely by Guyanese doctors.