Cabinet outreach generally successful
- President reports
Guyana Chronicle
June 4, 2002

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PRESIDENT Bharrat Jagdeo has said that the Cabinet outreach in Region Six (East Berbice/Corentyne) provided an opportunity to meet directly with communities and make greater contact with the people.

At a news conference Saturday at the conclusion of the two-day outreach, he said the visit allowed for a more direct information flow pertaining to the problems of the various communities and reducing the time it takes for information to reach the centre. This expedites the response process, he added.

Noting the usefulness of the exercise, Mr. Jagdeo said it would be continued in other regions.

Referring to some of the major developments in the region, the President said the modernisation and expansion plan for the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GUYSUCO) will not only benefit Berbicians, but will also create jobs for the entire country.

In the education sector, the establishment and expansion of the Berbice Campus of the University of Guyana, the modernisation and expansion of the New Amsterdam Technical Institute, the establishment of another technical institute in the Upper Corentyne and the development of facilities for training in Information Technology are part of the major educational thrust in Berbice. In addition, a Berbice Education Plan, which is part of the National Education Plan to improve standards in the school system, is being implemented, the President reported.

Water supply systems have been installed in several communities and the establishment of several new housing schemes was also part of the improvement of life in the region, he noted.

However, he pointed out, there are many problems that remain, including the poor functioning of some Neighbourhood Democratic Councils, corruption, floods, roads in poor condition and shoddy work by some contractors.

The Government was aware of the problems affecting the communities, but the difficulty was the "paucity of resources" and priority has to be given to the more pressing problems, President Jagdeo explained.

He also emphasised the need for improved communication channels between the various tiers of the Government.

"We also looked at the communication channels between the Neighbourhood Democratic Councils, the regions, the various Government departments and the Central Government, clarifying lines of authority, all with a view to better coordinating our work and responding with more alacrity when emergency situations arise and not through the bureaucracy which sometimes takes a long time and does not yield results, thus leading to unnecessary suffering to the people," the President told reporters at State House in New Amsterdam.

He said the visit by the Cabinet was generally successful and though there were disappointment at some meetings, there was "great support and understanding" from the people.

Minister of Housing and Water, Mr. Shaik Baksh, at the press conference, reported that since 1992, eleven housing schemes have been established, while some 5,800 house lots have been distributed.

Land titles are being processed and with funding from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) coming on stream next year there will be further improvement in the infrastructure in housing schemes, he said.

Responding to queries about low pressure in the water supply system in New Amsterdam and its environs, Baksh said this stemmed from the malfunctioning of three booster pumps and a problem with the lining of the storage tank at the Rose Hall water system.

The former have been sent to the UK to be repaired and are expected back by this August. However, the material needed to repair the storage tank is a bit difficult to obtain, and consequently, it would be fixed by the end of the year, the minister assured. He explained that when the three pumps are reinstalled the situation will improve, though the problem will not be completely solved.

Also sharing the press conference was Minister of Transport and Hydraulics, Mr. Anthony Xavier who announced that major maintenance on the sea defence will be executed to prevent flooding in vulnerable communities.

On the Berbice River Bridge project, he said plans were progressing and a report on the negotiations is expected by the end of the month. President Jagdeo said the Government was trying to raise US$40M for the project.

Xavier said roads in the New Amsterdam municipality are not under the responsibility of his ministry, but during last year it did some repairs because of the extremely poor state of the roads.

The minister also pointed out that a water supply system is expected to be installed at the Moleson Creek Ferry Terminal shortly. (CHAMANLALL NAIPAUL)