House clears estimates for regional spending

Estimated spending for the regional administrations was last evening approved in the National Assembly, where opposition MPs urged the Local Government Ministry to consider key interventions to issues affecting the regions.

Local Government and Regional Development Minister Ganga Persaud was taken to task as the  budgeted estimates for each administrative region which falls under his ministry were scrutinised by the House in the Committee of Supply.

Ganga Persaud

As the estimates for Region 8 were being examined, AFC MP Eula Marcello called on the minister to reconsider the allocations made for two vehicles, including a model M truck for the region and proposed the placement of an ambulance or minibus to transport persons in and out of the region in case of emergencies.

As the estimates for health services for the region were being scrutinised, Persaud stated that the $8M sum allocated under the capital expenditure of this year’s budget for the region covers the purchase of three vehicles, including an All–Terrain-Vehicle (ATV) as well as the truck.

He said that the reason for the purchase of the truck was the importance of the transport of drugs into the region on a monthly basis from the Ministry of Health’s bond on the Coastland. He said that the vehicle will provide an important service to the region.

In the past, the residents of the communities have complained about the grave difficulties in accessing transportation, including air transport, for injured or sick persons from the area to the Coastland.

Marcello noted that the region is badly in need of a vehicle, such as an ambulance, to transport patients to and from the region. She said that at the moment, families depend on services of private individuals to whom large sums of monies have to be paid in order for patients to be shuttled to the Coastland from the mining community of Mahdia in cases of emergencies.

Meanwhile, APNU MP Sydney Allicock called on the minister to explain the allocation of monies for agriculture purposes for Region Nine in this year’s budget. He said that the government has been banking on the enhancement of its agricultural campaign, noting that the economic activity remains an important aspect of the development of the region.

He queried whether the services of a technical or extension officers have been budgeted for in this year’s budget. Persaud stated that at the moment there are no agricultural extension officers in the region but the Agriculture Ministry and its support services are contributing towards the development of its agricultural potential.

As regards the provision of security services to regions, including regions 8 and 9, the Strategic Action Security Services (SASS) has been awarded contracts to man the government buildings and properties therein.

Yesterday, as the estimates for Region 9 were being scrutinised, APNU MP Joseph Harmon asked Persaud about the process that led to SASS being awarded the contracts to provide security services to the region.

Persaud stated that the company won the contracts from a field of several other bidders and according to him, the tendering process was advertised within the region via the Guyana Chronicle and the government’s e-procure website. He said too that the process was carried out in accordance with the provisions of the Procurement Act.

The Local Government Minister  and the Regional Executive Officers (REOs) of the 10 administrative regions were subjected to a gruelling two days in which they were asked to explain the sums allocated in this year’s budget for various projects under the purview of the regional administrations.

Last evening Persaud received a pat on the back from Speaker of the House Raphael Trotman for his efforts in providing information as requested by the oppositions MPs as well as for making commitments to having such information being made available to the MPs within the next week.

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