Disability community has been left out of the budget

Dear Editor,
It would appear that the disability community has been left out of the 2012 budgetary allocations.

On November 10, 2011, then President Bharrat Jagdeo pledged $20M to the disability community in Guyana, at the Police Officers’ Mess, Eve Leary where he met with representatives of the different organizations representing persons with disabilities in Guyana. The funds which, according to Mr Jagdeo, are to be managed jointly by the National Commission on Disability and the Guyana Council of Organisations for Persons with Disabilities should have been released one week later. GINA quoted Mr Jagdeo as saying, “You will sit together and start deciding on what are the initiatives you want funded that could make a difference in your lives, that could make you more productive [either] training initiatives or initiatives geared towards employment creation.”

Mr Jagdeo gave the assurance that this special fund will be recurrent in the national budget annually, aside from initiatives that the government will fund through the various ministries and agencies for persons living with disabilities.

The stigmatisation and discrimination accorded the disabled in Guyana are firmly grounded in our culture, beliefs and attitudes, which have resulted in social exclusion. These factors which hinder the smooth integration of persons living with disabilities in society make it imperative that all sectors of society create awareness among the public for attitudinal change towards members of this important group.

Sadly, we in the disability community have seen little indication of this in this year’s budget and are urging the members of the National Assembly to ensure that Mr Jagdeo’s commitment is honoured, since it does not depart from what they promised in their various manifestos.

Yours faithfully,
Leon Walcott
Chairman
Guyana Council of     
Organisations for
Persons with Disabilities

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