Political patronage is now adorned with a new disguise. It now travels under the name of CORE where millions of tax payers’ dollars are squandered to reward the ‘foot soldiers’ of the PNC and the AFC. This is so glaring since the ‘employees’ comprise members and supporters of these two parties and are predominantly from one racial grouping.
The acronym CORE stands for Community Organized for the Restoration of the Environment, but this is a misnomer, since these ‘employees’ are directly under the control of ‘political hacks’ and are at their beck and call since most of the work done is for these political hacks. It is estimated that there are over 400 CORE workers who work only four days per week and four hours per day -a total of 16 hours per week and are paid $60,000 per month! In contrast the Community Infrastructure Improvement Project (CIIP) workers who work the same number of hours and days are paid just $24,000 per month. In addition, these workers are given expensive gear such as brush cutters. Minister Ferguson had said that a person will be able ‘to earn an honest day’s pay through an honest day’s work’. I will suggest to her that the CORE workers in Region 6 have not lived up to her expectations!
Again, in contrast, the CIIP workers clean and dig drains and they weed hard bushes and grass while the CORE workers in Region 6 are idle most of the time when they are not engaged in doing chores for their political masters and mistresses. Some can also be seen in front of the residence of an AFC member at Fyrish Village cleaning the sides of the Corentyne Highway. This work is under contract to a private contractor by the Ministry of Public Infrastructure so why the duplication? The CIIP workers are weeding, digging, clearing and cleaning the streets and drains of the various communities, so what work are the CORE workers doing? It must be recalled that the CORE workers should be responsible for ’environmental upgrade, weeding, cleaning, drainage clearing, sanitation and general beautification’, but unfortunately these works are duplications of works already done by the private contractor, the CIIP and the NDCs. This is massive wastage of our tax payers’ dollars!
At our RDC Statutory meeting held on 4th May, 2018, the REO, the Chairman and the Vice Chairman and the entire RDC could not say who employs and controls the CORE workers in Berbice, what work they are doing or who is responsible for their supervision and payment. It is not even known how many CORE workers are on the Ministry of Public Infrastructure’s payroll. The Chairman had wanted these CORE workers to do some cleaning at the Highbury Indian Arrival Site but no one could say through whom they can be contacted. It was also mentioned by an NDC Councillor from Nos: 52/74 NDC that efforts to get them to clean the #63 Beach was futile. They did no work at the Cheddi Jagan and Janet Jagan Memorial Site at Babu John, they did no work at the Rose Hall Martyrs’ Site so it begs the question: What restorative works are the CORE workers doing? Minister Ferguson had proudly stated that “the aim of CORE is to restore the environment… and be involved in critical projects coming out of the Ministry”. Is this being done in Region 6?
The CORE programme was launched in March, 2017 and it was launched in Region 6 over a year now yet the RDC is oblivious of its operations. There were suggestions that just like the CIIP workers, the CORE workers should be controlled by the RDC and not any political party, all employment should be processed through the RDC. The RDC knows where these workers can be effectively deployed. Our economy cannot sustain this type of wastage of our scarce resources.
RDC Councillor-Region 6