As part of its mandate to significantly increase training in every sector, the Region Four (Demerara/Mahaica) administration held a one-day seminar yesterday on procurement and other subjects for NDC councillors.
The event which was held at the BV/Quamina Primary School, was attended by 105 officials from the 17 Neighbourhood Democratic Councils (NDC) which form part of Region Four.
According to a Region Four press release, the training which targeted a number of areas was organised after the Regional Executive Officer (REO) Pauline Lucas had expressed an urgent need for such training. Lucas had made this call after declaring at a meeting held with the then 15 NDCs that there was a need for urgent and significant training. She had made this call, while warning several NDCs about them blatantly and deliberately breaching procurement regulations.
Regional Chairman, Geneviève Allen congratulated the participants taking advantage of the opportunity in attending and thanked the RDC for organising the programme as well as recognising that there was an urgent need for the training. Allen stressed to the participants that they should be gathering information to guide them in governing their councils in a very transparent manner and to ensure that after they would have completed their term of office that they would have left a legacy that many can emulate.
“I often say that the work of the councillors is more than sitting around the horseshoe table and I will continue to repeat it, it is working on the ground among the people who are expected to benefit from the services provided by the council. During campaigns we are up and about after we are elected our constituents are seeking out attention,” she was quoted as saying.
The Regional Chairman reminded the councillors as well as the administrators that they were accountable to their constituents and warned that residents will only come forward and pay their rates and taxes if they develop confidence in those that are entrusted with managing the NDCs. She added, “They will only pay if they have confidence that you are going to spend the resources that you received in a wise manner. In a manner that is done in an equitable manner across your entire Local Authority Area.
Stressing the urgency and critical need for such a workshop for improving the skills and knowledge base of leaders from the NDCs, Regional Vice Chairman, Earle Lambert, in his remarks urged participants to not see this workshop as just ‘another workshop’ but one which has the potential to truly empower them.
The Regional Vice Chairman who also heads the Regional Works Committee, reminded participants that the training is critically important for their holistic development within the NDC and impressed upon them the need for them to utilise the information that will be shared as it would certainly enhance the way that many of the NDCs are conducting themselves. He said that he was disappointed to see the way several of the NDCs conduct their business due to inexperience and ignorance. Lambert also noted that noting that the issue of procurement continues to be one of great concern.
The training seminar highlighted areas that the RDC felt was of great concern. The Region’s District Development Officers (DDO), Rickford Profit and Sherlock Hudson dealt with the conducting of meetings. Regional Development Officer (RDO), Reshme Chetan dealt with the Committees of the Council and explained the various committees that are mandatory within the NDCs. Explaining the roles of administration/councils was the Assistant Regional Executive Officer (AREO), Ramnarine Singh. He also stressed the urgent need for proper financial management which was identified as a problem area among several of the NDCs and also reminded the officials that they should become familiar with their role and responsibilities declaring that it would aid them in delivering effective and efficient service to residents. Lucas addressed the issue of procurement at length as it was another area of major concern. The REO pointed out that procurement makes up for 90 per cent of funds used with the remaining 10 per cent for salaries and other minor expenses. She urged participants to familiarise themselves with the Procurement Act and emphasised that knowing and understanding the act is their first responsibility in providing value for monies that their NDCs would have received.