APNU Region 10 representative, Vanessa Kissoon on Tuesday called on the government to re-examine the 2012 Budget to ensure that the region benefits financially as she highlighted several ills plaguing the constituency which she represents.
While addressing the National Assembly during the budget debate on Tuesday, Kissoon noted that the residents of the region are calling on the government to reconsider the budget, since according to them for the past decade under the Jagdeo administration there has been no development in Region 10.
She said the 2012 Budget offers nothing to the residents of the region and will cause added hardships. The residents are feeling victimised as they thought that the budget would have brought some sense of hope and scope for major developments in Region 10, especially since President Donald Ramotar had promised the residents, particularly young people and single mothers, that he would provide 1000 jobs for the development of the region and their own individual upliftment.
She said, however, that the residents feel sidelined since they see no provisions in the budget to bring economic development to the region.
She said the administration has posited that the region had voted race at the 2011 General and Regional Elections and according to her this budget is a reflection of pure aggression and vengeance against the residents of Region 10.
She said that government had failed to promote economic growth for the region, noting that there has been no significant increase for pensioners while decreased subsidies for electricity will add to the numerous woes being experienced in the region.
According to Kissoon, there remains a high unemployment rate in the region.
As regards health issues, she said that this year there have been substantial allocations to the sector but according to her, the Minister of Health must tell the nation what value is being given for monies spent to improve the sector.
She said that in 2002, following industrial action, former Health Minister Dr Leslie Ramsammy had said that he would create a health authority for the region, which went to the National Assembly under the title of the Berbice Health Authority.
She said that ever since the hospital was made to function under the Health Ministry, the nightmares for the workers at the hospital are continuing.
This, she noted, is coupled with the absence of a capital budget at the hospital to provide important services to the residents.
She noted also that the government had changed the contractual agreements for employees there.
In addition, she said that on many occasions drugs with a short shelf life are sent to the hospital while the essential drugs needed for patients are often outdated.
Kissoon said that there are other issues at the $2.2B hospital complex which raise eyebrows, adding that it’s not always about the big figures but the quality of services provided. She then asked, “are we getting value for money?”
Kissoon stated too that the maternity ward at the hospital is often crowded while patients are housed in other parts of the hospital to receive critical treatment. She said the ultra-sound machine which was unveiled when the hospital was commissioned two years ago has been unserviceable since then.
She added that there is also a language barrier there as the Chinese doctor often depends on the services of the paediatrician who acts as an interpreter.
In the water sector, she said there are many households which do not receive potable water.
She said too that residents of areas in Linden “are still receiving ‘mauby’ water through their taps, mainly because this caring government refuses to pay attention to proper advice.”
Meanwhile, former Minister of Labour Manzoor Nadir told the National Assembly that government has created numerous avenues geared towards the development of the country. He said that the budget “continues to keep us on course, for another year of positive growth in our economy.”
He said further that the PPP/C government has restored creditworthiness to the country as a whole while this year’s budget is projecting 4.4% of GDP as a deficit, a more than manageable amount.
As regards the contentious issue of budgetary allocations to pensioners, he noted that the average public servant receives three pensions after retirement. He said that at age 55 they receive a government pension, and at age 60 they receive the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) pension and at age 65, the senior citizen receives a ‘top up’.
He said that there is also a waiver of water rates, and some 42,000 persons are benefiting from such allowances.
Nadir said too that with the initiative of the Small Business Trust Fund, over 800 persons will benefit directly in the form of employment.
He added that there is more money allocated this year to the sector which will bring benefits to more than 40,000 persons.
He said that the government is also investing in the tourism sector to build more opportunities for the people and the country at large.
He spoke of the benefits of the planned Marriott Hotel and the airport expansion projects, noting that the government is building the modern facilities to further enhance the economy.
He said that the budget speaks of the ICT and the energy sector, adding that in any economy electricity and connectivity are two areas which are essential for development.
Meanwhile, in his maiden presentation to the National Assembly, Minister within the Ministry of Agriculture Ali Baksh said that the government has made significant investments over the years to develop the country.
The new parliamentarian stated that the government is investing heavily in developing the nation and he spoke briefly about a new housing scheme at Aurora on the Essequibo Coast which is being built at a cost of $500M.
He said that it will bring benefits to dozens of families and government this year will expend heavy sums in drainage and irrigation infrastructure across the country while several roads will be constructed for the benefit of several communities.