The first local projects under the 7th cycle of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB)-sponsored US$7.1 million Basic Needs Trust Fund (BNTF) are likely to be initiated by the latter half of 2014, says Michael Singh, Project Manager of BNTF, Guyana.
Singh on Thursday said that the 2014 start is likely because the validation process needed to clear all of the project proposals is very stringent and will therefore take some time to complete.
He reiterated that the BNTF, Guyana oversight body will be accepting project applications from all ten administrative regions but added that the majority of the funding is likely to go to hinterland areas, where poverty indicators suggest the need is greatest. He said that these areas are usually in need of better schooling facilities and an improved water supply.
During the launch of the new cycle last week, Singh had said that the list of projects will be informed by and for the people in the societies that will be applying.
He said that the applications will be submitted to the various Neighbourhood Democratic Councils (NDCs), who would then pass them over to the Regional Democratic Councils (RDCs), then to the oversight body.
He said though, that each application needs to be screened to ensure that applicants have made submissions for projects that are being offered under the 7th cycle. Areas that will be addressed under this cycle of the BNTF include access roads, education and water and sanitation.
In addition, he said that checks will have to be made by BNTF’s Community Liaison Officers (CLO) to confirm that the needs expressed in the applications are genuine. Once these checks are made, Singh said, reports are sent to the local BNTF board that makes the final decision on what projects are to be implemented.
Singh revealed that applications have already started to trickle in. He said that proposals for project have been received from areas along the Berbice River, as well as from St. Ignatius in Region Nine.
Asked about the maintenance of projects completed in previous cycles, Singh said that BNTF Guyana would usually set up a Project Monitoring Committee, which is trained and equipped to maintain the finished projects.
He added that government also streams finances through the RDCs in the various regions to help maintain projects, including those carried out by BNTF. Singh said that once the necessary routine and preventive maintenance exercises are carried out, it facilitates the proper maintenance and longevity of these projects.
He conceded though that there are instances where improper use of facilities such as community roads lead to untimely degradation. Singh related instances where roads built for light traffic are often bombarded by heavy duty vehicular traffic. This, he says, badly damages the roads, therefore cutting short their lifespan. He added that because much of it happens in the hinterland and other outlying areas, it is usually very difficult to monitor the roads to ensure proper usage.
Guyana has lauded by the CDB for having implemented the most projects under this initiative, and also for their efficiency for the implementation of these projects. William Warren, President of the Bank, has said that it is partly due to this reason that the country has received the most loans and grants of all other countries which qualify for such funding.