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

Budget Speech - Mr Marcello Joseph—2014

Hits: 3208 | Published Date: 03 Apr, 2014
| Speech delivered at: 75th Sitting - Tenth Parliament
| Speech Delivered by : Ms June Eula Marcello, MP

Ms. Marcello: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The AFC welcomes all support for my Amerindian People. “Waláu Túsè Êna kápon yà mũk wéchi Màláu, malaú yâing tái Paláu tú ṕui ka taú tok konǵ yéchi, Wapeuyaluk kóng kolu Câyána’ Yawong konǵ pâe.”
Mr. Speaker: You need to translate, please, Hon. Member.

Ms. Marcello: We deserve better treatment as the first people of Guyana. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
I rise to lend my support to the Members of the Alliance For Change who have spoken before me. First of all, I wish to endorse the theme for this year’s Budget which states, A Better Guyana for all Guyanese. As I listened to this great presentation of the Hon. Minister of Finance, I was left in dismay as to whether all Guyanese people are truly the beneficiaries of these large sums of money.
As I interact with my fellow Guyanese from all walks of life, I have heard them describing the country’s state of affairs as the worst ever when compared to previous years of struggle. In spite of the largest ever budgets being presented year after year, the economic resources of this country are not adequately distributed, especially to the poor and working class. This year’s Budget has not adequately addressed the needs and wishes of these ordinary Guyanese.
Let me proceed to address the most critical issues affecting the people of Region 8. Much has been said about development as the Minister continues to sing the same lyrics he sings every year.
Development in hinterlands is hindered by the Government officials selected to look after the affairs of the Region as they continue to refuse to take recommendations for development put forward by Regional Democratic Councils, education departments, health departments and public works departments to enhance democracy at grassroots levels.

Schools across the Region continue to experience difficult challenges when it comes to education delivery, as there are inadequate learning materials, textbooks, janitorial supplies in nursery, primary and secondary schools and inadequate number of trained teachers. In order to deliver good quality education to our children, the leaders of tomorrow, we need to put strong emphasis in training specialised teachers, rather than voluntary teachers. In most instances, especially in secondary schools, teachers trained in prevocational subjects are tasked to teach compulsory subjects like Mathematics and English. When this happens, they are unable to deliver quality education since they are not qualified in these subjects. Instead, they should be put to teach the subjects that they are qualified in. I am sure that our children will be able to gain outstanding performances. I, therefore, wish to ask the Government to train teachers from the hinterland so that upon the completion of their training, they would return to deliver good quality education from the comfort of their homes.
Build schools to cater for a growing population because the women of the hinterland have high fertility rates. Give scholarships to outstanding CSEC and Grade 6 students. Build technical institutes for Technical Drawing and Woods for successful students so that they can improve their skills and enter the world of work and earn a living.
I wish to turn my attention to health. Health in Region 8 has suffered tremendously with the shortage of commonly used medical supplies last year and it continues this year. Health is one of the most important things an individual needs to have to bring progress to his livelihood and to others. If this Government is serious about decent healthcare delivery in this country, let it pay public servants a 15% increase in their salaries, especially those healthcare providers who work tirelessly taking care of the sick.
Stock the hospitals, health centres and health posts with adequate amounts of drugs and medical supplies in a timely manner. Expired drugs have become an order of the day. Drugs supplied to these institutions are discovered to be expired upon arrival. The medical supplies are distributed in small quantities and the administrators fail to take into consideration the growing population.

The Hon. Minister spoke boldly about the increase of the nurses and doctors in the health sector. I would not dispute his statement. However, there are several health centres in Region 8 which do not have a doctor or a Chief Health Worker (CHW). For example, there is no doctor at Kato Cottage Hospital. It is managed by two female CHWs. As in the case of Kaibarupai, Maikwak and Tumatumari, there is no medical personnel, so decent healthcare delivery cannot be realised in these communities. When applications are made by persons, especially from Region 8, and they reach the Ministry of Health, they are put aside by those doing selection for training by saying, “Region 8, problematic Region”.
Train medical professionals from the hinterlands to manage institutions adequately because these areas remain to have high fertility rate, not because we are sexy nor because of our culture, but rather because they cannot have equal access to family planning methods. We need dedicated persons who are readily available when emergencies arise because, in some instances, some doctors drink alcohol whole night and sleep whole day and sometimes go to work staggering. How can we trust a drunken man’s diagnosis and prescription? Due to such incidents, patients travel to Georgetown for medical attention at their own expense. That is why Georgetown Public Hospital is burdened with minor health issues which could have been addressed at regional levels.
Shortages of medical supplies in North Pakaraimas have led to unnecessary referrals to district hospitals in the Region.
Water: our water woes continue despite the implementation of wells in 2012 and 2013. The ‘salbora’ goes on and off. Three communities have had no water for three months now. The wells at Paramakatoi are non-functional. The walls of the well have broken away. Water leaks and cannot enter the pipelines. Dorm students continue to fetch water for staff to cook meals for them from a spring located 100 feet from the dorms, every morning, lunch time and after school. In other areas such as Bamboo Creek, Monkey Mountain and Tusenen, they need water storage facilities and extension of pipelines to better serve the community.

In the years 2012 and 2013, more infrastructure developments have been promised to be built. As more sums of money are allocated in this sector, contractors continue to rake away taxpayers’ dollars either for substandard works done or incomplete work and overpayments for incomplete work as indicated in the Auditor General’s Report. When our representatives on this side of the House raise questions with the intention to rectify the discrepancies, we are referred to as foolish men and women, and oftentimes, the regional authorities of this Government readily denies the facts. I stand here not to twist the truth, but to speak the truth. Therefore, I strongly recommend that these developmental projects are properly scrutinised in its initial stages and completion stages to ensure that quality work is done. I, therefore, want to urge the leaders on both sides of this House to work together as echoed by our Minister of Public Service in her speech.
Examples of projects include non-completion of Mountain Foot since 2012 and here are the pictures. Some of the blocks put on the walls are of concrete and mud bricks. The Arasawa Health Post has not been completed since three years ago; the X-ray department extension was left incomplete since works commenced early this year, and there are no X-ray services at the Mahdia District Hospital.

Accommodation is becoming a problem for our workers since apartments are built to house single workers. As more families enter the labour force, they cannot provide adequate housing for them and because of that, families split and women sometimes are left as single parents since we cannot keep them together. I urge this Government in all its wisdom to find a solution, at least, by expanding on new buildings to house a family of six since our workers are continued to be removed from the comfort of their homes to offer services in areas other areas where they are mostly needed. Furnished government apartments need to be made available to all, not to a few. In most cases, some workers are given empty quarters, while others enjoy the luxury of resources, thus forcing them to do furnishing at their own expense. While Government continues to make allocation for furniture and equipment, none are found in some. It is time for us to put our party politics aside and serve the people of this Nation with dignity.
Roads in the hinterland continue to remain in need of urgent repairs. Years ago, when simple tools like pickaxes and shovels were used to build roads, they were better built and lasted longer, but with heavy duty road building equipment, they are not properly maintained. In hinterland locations, we need mini-excavators and bull-dozers to use to maintain when needed. Make our roads established roads instead of pumping large sums of money in fancy hotels like the Marriot - which an Amerindian, like myself, would not be able to afford – give us a mortgage and a commercial bank in Region No. 8.
The Hon. Member Mr. Bulkan stressed much on the complete control of regional vehicles by the Regional Executive Officer (REO) and a small cluster of friends which are used for their benefits. I just would like to urge our leaders to put proper names on vehicles purchased for various departments.

For example, if vehicles are purchased for health they should carry the name Regional Democratic Council – Health Services, and for education Regional Democratic Council - Education Department so these vehicles can be easily identified. In recent times we were told some vehicles were purchased for health and education but when we were looking for the vehicles the REO claimed that they are for admin office. The ambulance is yet to be received. At this time we are looking for a new ambulance as we were told, not a second-hand which was touring around the country. An All Terrain Vehicle (ATV) given by the Minister of Amerindian Affairs to the Senior Councillor at Mountain Foot to help with transportation was never handed over to him even though attempts were made to secure same. The Community Development Officer (CDO) holds on to it and uses it for his administration even though two ATVs were given to him for his office - none are functional; corruption continues at grass root level.
Security - as large sums of money are allocated to security sector we continue to see Guyanese being robbed, raped and killed every day. You cannot escape a day without a crime scene on the front cover of the newspaper. Where is the Police Force? Where is the SWAT Team? Are they only securing the Ministers of Government? The Police in the hinterland are not fully equipped to deal with serious crimes such as murder. They seem more than afraid for their lives without proper equipment and protective gear to venture into the deep forest of the hinterland to capture criminals. The hinterlands have become a safe haven for criminals; they walk free without fear, eat and dwell among us. They continue to steal and kill our hardworking miners for their gold and money, and their families do not get justice. We continue to live in fear.
Border security is nowhere close to reality. Brazilians continue to enter Guyana’s shores to do mining without a permit especially through backtracks such as Iirin Matan and Mutun and take away our gold and diamond thorough the same route. I, therefore, urge this Government to become serious with the security of persons not only in some parts of the country but all parts of the country.
Mr. Speaker:  Hon. Member, you have five minutes within which to conclude.

Ms. Marcello: Give our military officers the means of adequate land and air transport. Let them secure our borders – land, water and air.
Communication - we The Alliance for Change (AFC) continue to pursue aggressively the development for all Guyanese by representing their needs. Region No. 8 remains years behind communication technology, no television, no electricity and no access to information about the happenings; thus, this Government use the disadvantage to filter into these communities the half truths about Opposition destroying development. We cannot continue to be fooled like this. Let me remind this Government that they cannot continue to fool us; we cannot remain this way all the time. We can use any opportunity presented to use to get the factual information on the happenings in Guyana.

When the Budget was presented by Hon. Minister, there was less mention of hinterland developments and more emphasis was placed on large projects which can benefit three-quarter of the population. We were asked by the former Minister not to worry about little things like potholes rather we must worry about bigger projects. This clearly indicates that this Government is following the footsteps of the Former President, continues to ignore the concerns of the little man in the hinterland.
Electricity not readily available – the Mahdia Power and Light (MPL_ provides electricity to Mahdia at the cost of $100. The solution to this problem is not the Amaila Falls it is the Tumatumari Hydropower Project. Solar panels given to Amerindian communities are non-functional as in the case of Tusening where about 50 solar panels given are non-functional and are stored in the corners of houses. This cannot work; come on Government, you cannot continue to treat Amerindians like this; give them good things so they can enjoy the benefits of a caring Government.

I wish to conclude by saying that this very Government who objected strenuously when Opposition made cuts to National Budget slashed 60% of regional budget before they are finalised into national Budget. How can this Government expect this side of the House to see smooth of this Budget when we did not have an input? The AFC stands firm and strong on this side of the House. This Government has failed people; this Government has failed Guyanese people since 2012, 2013 and now 2014 Budget.  Two years have passed since the Government promised to end corruption, create jobs, reduce narco-trafficking, and improve the living of all Guyanese by changing course. These continue to exist among us thus leading to prostitution, human trafficking, drug abuse, and increase in HIV among our young people in the hinterland. Only this year four young people under the age of 20 lost their lives with co-infection of HIV and tuberculosis. We need medical technicians to go across the Region to detect these diseases early so that people can be given medical care. Not even that, he has failed to correct corrupt policies of previous regime and even have failed to remove corrupt politicians in various ministries who are unprepared to make a better Guyana for all Guyanese. This type of behaviour is difficult to explain to ordinary Guyanese.
In closing, I wish to urge Members on both sides of this House to let integrity and honesty protect us as we continue to serve Guyanese.
Thank you. [Applause]

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