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Copyright ©2014 Parliament of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana.

Budget Debate 2013

Hits: 2979 | Published Date: 05 Apr, 2013
| Speech delivered at: 44th Sitting- Tenth Parliament
| Speech Delivered by : Ms June Eula Marcello, MP

Ms. Marcello: Thank you Mdm. Deputy Speaker. I once again rise to lend my support to the Alliance for Change (AFC) Members who have spoken before me on the 2013 Budget, themed by the Government, “Overcoming challenges together, accelerating gains for Guyana.” I am left to wonder how serious this Government is about its theme. Is there real commitment to a unified approach to the challenges we face? I have doubts because prior to the release of the Estimates, the Alliance for Change made repeated calls urging that together the Government and the Opposition work to develop a National Budget that truly reflects the needs and aspirations of the people of Guyana. All of this fell on deaf ears as there were some, half hearted to engage the AFC. So, the Government did its duty and prepared Budget 2013. Now, the AFC must do its duty and its duty is to the people of Guyana to ensure that their dreams are realised, that the needs of the people are met and our children’s future is secured. The Government of this country needs to accept constructive criticisms coming forward from the Opposition’s benches and build policies upon these criticisms and create an efficient Government towards the good of the Nation.
Let me focus on education. Education prepares young people for the outside world. At this point, I need to commend this Government for trained teachers, infrastructural developments, even for the availability of outdated text books. We are happy with the universal education, but what about the further training. As I mentioned in my 2012 speech, there is no motivation for students who would have had excelled in the CSEC examinations, no scholarships for tertiary education as in the case of two top students of Peaking Secondary School in 2010 and one in 2011. Therefore, I suggest that this Government puts strong emphasis on manpower planning as a number one priority on its national agenda, since equality is what we are looking for not only on the Coast, but throughout Guyana.
Overcrowding in schools continue to plague the hinterland communities since the population increases rapidly in these hinterland areas. The Government needs to cater for the next five years ahead when establishing schools in these areas. Paramakatoi Primary School is still not completed since its commencement in early 2012. Students continue to be housed at Paramakatoi Church of Christ and multi-purpose halls. I am concerned about a church being used to house children. We are not in the 1960’s where education was delivered in mission homes. This Government with so much pride cannot speed up the process of the construction of this school. Such projects need proper monitoring to ensure timely construction.
Hard lying and station allowances for teachers have not been given to teachers in Region 8, since an agreement was signed between the Ministry of Education and the Guyana Teachers’ Union in 2011.
In-availability of learning resources - Meals for dorms - meat being spoiled while waiting to be transported, reaches its location in a very bad state for human consumption. Accommodation for teachers from the coast continues to pose a problem in interior locations, as in the case of Ms. Vanessa, who is a trained teacher and also a graduate from the University of Guyana (UG). She had gone to Mahadia Secondary School to extend her services, but was put out of the room she was occupying by the Regional Administration Officer at the Regional Guest House, while she was at work. The head teacher had to spend approximately two weeks sleeping on a chair and went to work from same. Travelling allowances for teachers from the coast have not been provided.
Health – in spite of millions allocated for the Health Sector every year to provide adequate pharmaceuticals and timely services to the people of Guyana, we continue to suffer inadequacies in medical supplies. The hospital bond is yet to be fixed; there is no electricity, proper shortage for pharmaceuticals or ventilation.
By the way, yesterday afternoon around 3 o’clock, I got a message from a colleague saying that after the speeches given by the Hon. Members, Dr. Norton and the Hon. Member Bulkan, when the message reached to Mahdia, the Regional Executive Officer (REO) of Region No.8 had to pick a team up and they went running to the bond. That same afternoon the installation of bulbs in the bond began.
Cranes are sent to the Materials Management Unit quarterly for drugs supply. It took one month to be processed; in the meantime we suffer shortages. On various occasions we are supplied with expired drugs which gives no other option, but to use them at our risk. Dr. Ramsammy knows about this. He visited and the condition in which he saw the bond remains the same, as when he was a Minister.
Is this improvement and timely services? The malaria drugs supplied in small quantities to endemic areas is an insult to the Regions affected. Transportation is still an issue in Region No.8. In spite of moneys allocated to purchase a truck and a 4x4 ATV for the hospital, remains a dream and has not become a reality. Now I can see in 2013, moneys allocated to purchase an ambulance. Paramakatoi Health Centre does not have any means of transportation. Critical patients from Red Creek, Bamboo Creek, Taruka, Kairisparu, et cetera are transported to P.K. Health Centre via the traditional way of hammock tied to stakes to make the stretchers. I would like to know where the moneys for 2012 have gone, those that were allocated for health.
24-hour security in spite of moneys allocated yearly to cater for this purpose. As in the case, recently, at Mahdia District Hospital, nurses were attacked around 11.00 p.m. which made nurses jump through the window with a patient, a child, at that time to escape. As usual, police were called and they arrived after a while, at which time the person had gone. I need to see 24-hour security at these institutions since these hardworking nurses and doctors need complete protection.
Mining: I wish to commend the miners at this time for producing gold under serious circumstances, such as malaria, which has contributed to our country’s economy. As mining continues to breathe economy, we need a bank in Region No.8 so that savings could be done by miners to improve their living standards because we cannot continue to put our savings under our mattresses or in our pillows. Mining is one of the major economic activities in Region No.8. As a result of this prostitution is on the rise – not all of them – crime is on the rise, drug abuse is on the rise, school dropouts are on the rise, unemployment is on the rise, illegal mining is on the rise. Therefore with the implementation of roads joining our borders one can find people for neighbouring areas using that back track to come into Region No.8 to extract and carry away gold. They do not sell the gold that they extract from there to the Gold Board. This is what I am talking about. This is not something untrue. This is a true something. …such as Brazil. Brazilians come in their numbers every single day. Therefore security is needed in these areas but the police in these hinterland locations lack resources to effectively carry out their duties; as in the case of Mahdia, police only have one functional ATV. Since the hinterland is a safe haven for criminals the police need to be properly equipped to do their work. For instance if there is a criminal activity in Black Water police are handicapped from responding swiftly so by the time they reach by some means the law breakers will all be gone. What is the Government doing about this? Therefore these criminals walk free in the hinterlands while the families affected lack justice.
As the late Dr. Cheddi Jagan often said, “this country is too rich to be so poor”. The hinterland is too rich for its people to be so poor.
Electricity: I saw moneys in this budget to keep MPL running, we welcome that. By the way, I am concerned about the frequent blackouts which residents say destroy their appliances. When the Hon. Prime Minister visited the area earlier this year the issue was brought to his attention. He promised that an additional generator will be purchased to back up the existing ones and this Government is committed to doing so. In the 2013 Budget I have not seen an allocation for the same. Is the Hon. Prime Minister still dreaming?
Electricity in Campbelltown: Residents of Campbelltown continue to ask question as to when electricity poles will be erected in their area. During the visit by our Hon. Minister of Amerindian Affairs this question was raised. To their disappointment the Minister said that she does not have an answer to this and that instead they should seek answers from the people they voted for. Is this togetherness?
Water: The water situation in many communities in Region No.8 has improved to some extent. We have water on and off. At Paramakatoi an additional well has been dug and residents will enjoy potable water very soon anyway; not all of the time it is bad, thanks to the Government. I cannot say that they are doing nothing. However, the development in these areas is very poor and limited.
Roads: Roads have been fixed to some extent after a protest action spearheaded by the AFC which saw the whole of Mahdia shut down. The Regional Educational Officer of Region No.8 is a very hard person to convince when it comes to work. He takes his time to respond but I would like to see speedy response to serious issues affecting the people this year.
Tolls have been removed. Drivers traversing Mango Landing do not have to pay tolls anymore thanks to the Regional Chairman who had to pursue this issue diligently while having consultations with Ministers concerned. The Regional Education Officer needs to work closely with RDC this year and put the recommendations of these representatives and aim at moving Region No.8 forward since most communities are still 1,000 years behind national progress.
Toshaos stipend need to be raised from $20,000 to $40,000 since this is inadequate for them as they are mandated to carryout day to day affairs of their villages. They are hardworking people.
There is much to be done to make the Guyanese populace comfortable. The Government does not do good things for people because they are close to its heart but rather because of his obligation as the President and we cannot be fooled by the strong words of Ministers on the other side that Government is helping people because they are close to its heart. This budget does not address, fully, the needs of the working class and the poor
Pensioners: The increase in pensions: The hinterland pensioners will not enjoy the additional provisions for GPL and water because they are not the customers to these entities. They, therefore, should be given their $15,000 pension.
Amerindian Title Lands: Titling of Amerindian Lands: The moneys allocated to do Amerindian land titling we welcome, just as usual, as Amerindians, but when I read an article written in the Guyana Times, 24th January, 2013, were Amerindians were referred to as second defenders to the land I am doubtful that these lands, when titled, would see complete jurisdiction of the Village Councils over these lands since the judicial system, the officials and the Constitution have often failed us in respect to protection of our rights and privileges.
We have been promised a better Guyana during campaigns but right now it has turned out to be a bitter Guyana. It is a sad day for Amerindians under the PPP/C’s 20-year government. Our right to healthy environment, safe drinking water, as in the case of Karkau is shattered. Article 181, Article 22 which says that property cannot be taken away from people without compensation have not been respected, as in the case of Isseneru. The judicial system has shown no regard to human dignity and worth by disregarding the Amerindian Act 2006 as invalid and denying us our right to occupy our ancestral lands without discrimination.
In closing, after saying all this, I would like to urge this Government to join with us to include all Guyanese across Guyana to be part of the development process and stop dreaming upon the critical issues affecting Guyanese. It is time to wake up, Mr. Government, and realise the reality of our mistakes and work towards change and stop trying to cover up your weaknesses with the Opposition. It is time to look forward rather than consistently looking back to the 1990’s. It is time we heal Guyana of its nightmares. People of Guyana, let us work together for change. The Alliance For Change is in the forefront of this effort and we stand ready to work with all who truly love this country to make it better, thank you. [Applause]

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