A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) says this year’s Budget has the potential to dangerously divide Guyana into two nations – one poorer and one richer.
It’s statement issued today follows:
The Budget is creating an East-West divide that separates everything West of the Essequibo River from what lies to the East.
Guyana’s hinterland west of Fort Island on the Essequibo River has become a very lawless, dangerous place but is largely underdeveloped. The four hinterland regions – Barima-Waini; Cuyuni-Mazaruni; Potaro-Siparuni and Rupununi – have become a zone of gross governmental underdevelopment and neglect.
These regions occupy over 70 per cent of our national territory. They possess the country’s major logging, mining and tourism resources. They have been exploited for over a century and a half and continue to enrich the national treasury but remain underdeveloped themselves. Their lush environment is under threat of degradation. Banditry is rampant; contraband smuggling is commonplace; disease is prevalent; poverty is pervasive and educational standards are lower than the rest of the country.
APNU has noted, for example, the section of the Minister’s Budget speech entitled “Physical Infrastructure for Transformation (pp. 32-33).” The roads to be repaired are mainly in the East Bank, West Coast and East Coast Demerara and Berbice on the coastland not in the rich gold and diamond mining areas in the hinterland.
This Budget perpetuates the divergences, disparities and divisions which have hindered development in our country. The Budget ignores the environmental damage in the hinterland. Some mined-out parts have degenerated into a mosquito-infested wasteland. Its evergreen forests and pristine waterways are under threat. Exploiting the economic resources, sustaining the livelihood of the residents and protecting the environment demand a new budgetary approach to hinterland administration.
APNU calls on the PPP/C administration to provide for the four hinterland regional administrative centres – Bartica, Mahdia, Mabaruma and Lethem – to be quickly upgraded to township status with their own mayors and town councils in order to improve the quality of municipal government. Hinterland residents have demanded permanent institutions not ad hoc programmes. They want regional technical and agricultural institutes; regional agricultural development banks and regional athletics, swimming and sports centres.
Budget 2014 has failed to present a comprehensive financial plan for the development of the material resources and for the improvement of the quality of life for residents of the hinterland. This failure will deepen the differences between the poorer Western Essequibo and the more developed rest of the country