The head of the Economic Review Committee, set up to chart a development plan for Region 10 under the agreement struck between the government and the regional administration, has stepped down.
Region Ten Chairman Sharma Solomon told a press conference held at the Critchlow Labour College yesterday that chairperson Joycelyn Williams communicated her decision to withdraw from the committee to Head of the Presidential Secretariat Dr Roger Luncheon on January 15th, citing the need to attend to “personal, family and social responsibility.”
Williams became the second person to withdraw from one of the committees after Narvon Persaud, who had resigned from the Technical Review Committee established to look into electricity costs in the region shortly after he was appointed. His resignation has held up the work of the economic committee, according to Solomon, who said the government “refuses to have the economic committee work until the Region agrees to an imposed nominee for the technical committee.” The region’s choice is Region Ten’s Interim Management Committee Councillor Charles Sampson, while the government wants Chairman of the Energy and Power Committee Clinton Williams.
The Economic Review Committee was tasked with producing an economic plan for the region within a 60-day timeframe and according to Solomon the region believes that given Williams’ expertise her team would have presented an effective plan.
The two committees and a Land Selection Committee were established through an agreement following five weeks of unrest over a planned hike in the electricity tariffs and fatal shooting of three protestors during resulting protests. The agreement also provided for a dish and transmitter that were given to the Linden community to be handed over to the regional administration and for the region to apply for a broadcasting licence, which was to be facilitated by the government.
However, 17 months after the agreement was sealed, it has yielded no tangible results, according to Solomon.
Thanking Williams for consenting to serve on the committee, Solomon said that the region respects her decision to withdraw and that the region will be dispatching names of proposed replacements to Dr Luncheon. He said that it is imperative that the region gets an Economic Development Plan to address critical and immediate socio-economic issues, such as education, employment, health, transportation and poverty. He noted that the region has the single largest pool of artisans and it is expected that the majority of labour for the building of the One Mile Primary School will be drawn from the township. “If we could have built bauxite’s massive infrastructures, public buildings, schools, roads, water and sewage system, irrigation and drainage from ground up, and started, through self-help, the building of the One Mile School, we can complete this school and engage in other development activities,” he said.
Speaking on the lack of progress on the agreement, Solomon said that as a young politician he was advised not to trust the PPP/C administration but noted that while some may have thought he was naïve, he wanted to give President Donald Ramotar an opportunity to prove himself to the world.
“It is called trust but verify. I trusted the well-meaning intent of those who forewarned me but I wanted to present the president of this country [an opportunity] to verify whether the advice given to me was honest,” Solomon said in a prepared statement.
He added that the president has provided proof as 17 months and counting after the agreement was struck it cannot be implemented even though the region is doing all in its power to achieve implementation but is being stymied every step of the way. However, he said that the fate of the people of the region is not sealed by the failure to honour the agreement but rather by the region’s determination to ensure every citizen gets what is his and hers as outlined in the constitution.
He questioned whether central government is intimidated by the capabilities of the people of the Linden and the region, while noting that as a people they would have to do whatever is necessary. “This means we will do what we have to do in order to enjoy the right to economic self-determination,” he said.