Counselling centre to get $10M from New Building Society
Range of other projects to be funded

By Andrew Richards
Stabroek News
April 5, 2000

The New Building Society (NBS) Ltd will disburse a total of $60 million for its 60th anniversary celebrations this year and one of the projects to benefit will be a counselling centre in Berbice.

At a press conference yesterday held at the NBS head office, the Society's Chairman, Ramdial Bhookmohan, identified the projects to be undertaken in Essequibo, Demerara and Berbice.

"NBS is forever mindful of its civic responsibilities and over the years has made substantial contributions to the communities at large," Bhookmohan stated.

Foremost among this year's anniversary plans is the construction of a Family Counselling Centre in Berbice on a plot of land donated by the government. NBS will contribute $10 million to the centre to be located at Babu John. "This is intended to assist in the arrest of the alarming rate of suicide in that county and Guyana as a whole," the NBS chairman stated.

Though the centre will have programmes that would help persons to cope with stress and depression, the primary focus will be on suicide. Bhookmohan noted that over 75 suicides were recorded last year in Guyana, with some 57 of the victims coming from Berbice.

Local architect, Albert Rodrigues, is working together with a group from overseas on the design of the building which is scheduled to be completed by October this year, Bhookmohan said.

He disclosed that the day-to-day management of the centre will be handled by a board of directors comprising representatives of NBS, the Ministry of Human Services and other social organisations. The government will finance the institution through the provision of a subvention on an annual basis.

The centre will be staffed with about 12 persons and already psychiatrists have been approached to identify what assistance they could offer.

NBS will also be refurbishing the building housing the Linden Centre for Disabled Children. This should be completed by August.

In Essequibo, Bhookmohan said, the society will repair the pavilion at the Anna Regina Community Centre ground. This is the ground on the Essequibo Coast where most of the sporting activities occur, he stated. The repairs will commence in June and will last no more than two months, he assured.

The NBS head office will come in for some brightening up as the society has undertaken to install three four-foot wide clocks, complete with chiming and lighting capabilities.

Other activities for the sixtieth anniversary celebrations are: * A feeding programme for the poor in Berbice and Demerara. * The erection of village signs totalling 40 in Linden, Essequibo, Berbice, East Demerara, and West Demerara. * Staging of a national essay competition. * Awarding the best graduating students of the members of the society at the Secondary Schools Entrance Examinations and the Caribbean Examinations Council exams. * Presentation of long service awards to staff members. * Presentation of awards to the long surviving members of the society in Linden, Georgetown and New Amsterdam.

The funds for NBS's anniversary activities have been derived from a $50 million grant allocated two years ago for the rehabilitation of the Palms, an old people's home, together with an additional $10 million approved by the board of directors.

The funds set aside for the Palms were never utilised because the committee set up to lay the groundwork for the project did not meet the deadline. Some $170 million was estimated as the cost of the rehabilitation but additional funding could not be accessed.

Assistant Secretary/Treasurer of NBS, Maurice Arjoon, told reporters that the society had not abandoned the idea of contributing to the renovation of the Palms and the board will reconsider funding when the project gets off the ground.

Recent contributions by NBS include $2 million to the Queen's College Restoration Fund, $40 million for the construction and maintenance of the NBS Hall of Residence at the University of Guyana and the donation of vehicles to the Guyana Police Force.

Stating that Guyanese should look towards NBS as their focus for development, Bhookmohan pointed out that the spreads between the mortgage loans and the savings accounts are small and whatever profit the society made was plugged back into community development throughout the country.

NBS now has offices in Rosignol, Rose Hall, Mahaica, Bartica and on the Essequibo Coast. Plans are in place to establish a branch in the Lethem area. The society already has branches in Georgetown, New Amsterdam, MacKenzie and Corriverton.

Also at the press conference was Chief Executive Officer, Monica La Bennett, who chaired the proceedings.