$10M micro credit scheme for Linden youths mooted

By Andrew Richards
Stabroek News
November 7, 1999

In a cinema in a town that have both seen better days, President Bharrat Jagdeo told a gathering of youths ranging in age from eight to 80 years that he had not come to solve all the problems in Region Ten in one day and that he did "not make promises lightly; only promises he can fulfil."

Jagdeo later indicated that in a promised visit in January, proposals will be made for a $10 million micro credit scheme to help youths start small businesses. Citing the case of a NDC that had built a project in Leguan only to find out the youths had no interest in it, he said he would ensure that young people are consulted and collaborate in implementing programmes concerning themselves.

Whilst acknowledging that at times youths have been forgotten he said that "I do not buy the argument that simply because things are difficult that youths should turn to drugs and a promiscuous life."

He urged the young people gathered at the very hot Palm Tree Cinema in Linden to take responsibility for their lives despite the difficulties they face and pledged to work every day to create opportunities for young people.

Whilst most of the audience fanned themselves with their programmes, he went on to promise a shopping list of projects for the town and Region Ten that include US$20 million from a European Union grant to spend in the community. More money was promised for the infrastructure at Amelia's Ward Housing Scheme. Saying that all young people should have a home, Jagdeo said: "It is so sad to me personally that government has had these resources for decades and just sat on their hands." He quickly reminded the audience that the PPP/Civic had handed out 20,000 house lots since assuming office, "but that is not enough". He assured the Lindeners that with the government taking over the water resources of the town, improved quality and quantity of water will be forthcoming.

The audience whose size would have pleased the cinema's owner if they had been paying, responded enthusiastically to the proposals, which were more for the whole community than for youths in particular. Jagdeo warned against restricting youths to the issues of sports, culture and drugs, as society would treat young people as "fringe elements". The President reiterated his intention "to rely heavily on the energy and drive of youth to transform our country and heal the wounds."

Once Linmine was privatised, Jagdeo said, the US$5 million subvention that the government now spends on propping up the operation will be freed up for use in the region., touting the intermediate savannahs as the "possible new frontier of agriculture in Guyana." Once some large investors are brought in as a "pull factor", the area could become self sufficient, he proffered.

A question and answer session followed that threatened to disintegrate as a series of youthful pensioners took charge of the microphone with carefully written speeches. The audience, emboldened by the President's solidarity with them, resorted to shouting down the chipper septuagenarians. One middle-aged youth waved around two brown envelopes in which he alleged to have "lack of transparency and accountability" by a local cooperative organisation. Jagdeo called out in the audience for the local officer but fortunately she was not to be found. One lady from West Watooka who begged the President to "please remember us" also asked for one of the "chiney" tractors and Jagdeo with a simple "Yes" likely made her day. Finally one question relevant to youths did reach the microphone and it concerned the failure by contractors who went to do work in Linden and Region Ten but did not employ local youths. By then, however, it was after the lunch hour and a Cabinet meeting at Watooka House was beckoning so the answer was lost in the shuffle of papers and feet as the audience headed for the exits.

A © page from:
Guyana: Land of Six Peoples