$2.2B Linden project 'leaps' into being
Skills, management training for entrepreneurs built-in
Stabroek News
February 12, 2002

The Linden Economic Advancement Project (LEAP) was inaugurated yesterday with a pledge from President Bharrat Jagdeo, that he would invest his personal efforts and time towards the development of the project and enhancing the well-being of the residents of Linden and the whole of Region Ten.

Speaking to a packed audience which comprised several dignitaries from the European Union and other representatives of the LEAP project, the President challenged the residents to remain focused and committed to the achievement of economic success and national wealth. He said that ever since the project was conceptualized some six years ago, many thought that it would not have materialised but his government and other officials of the private sector persevered thus the project has been realised.

Jagdeo noted that during a visit in 1994 he held discussions with residents of Linden and it was decided that apart from the increase of regional allocation for developmental works in the region they needed to target the area through a specific project. He said that the committee then decided on a number of programmes. He said that with that decision he approached the European Union and requested a 25 million Euros grant.

"We didn't secure this amount readily but we kept pressing on until we were assured of $2.2 billion."

Jagdeo pointed out that for Linden to develop, its residents had to think in terms of economic progress and enterprise.

He stressed that the project was for all Lindeners and pleaded for all to stay clear of partisan interests and unite their energies towards the development of the area. According to him, the people of Region Ten needed to cognisant of the project and the benefits it had to offer. He urged that all should be more enthusiastic in their quest for development and take full advantage of the project, which he said would result in a better and more prosperous life.

Jagdeo informed that the project was aimed at providing training for the youth in the area and his government had already allocated additional funding for the Linden Technical Institute so that young people could be adequately trained to undertake entrepreneurial roles as the project developed. He said that apart from skills training, the project would focus on business training aimed at enhancing persons' skills in financial management and the preparation of project proposals. Besides, he said that the project will would to set up a development enterprise which would help those who were business-oriented. He said that in this phase a micro-credit fund would be established with some $300 million set aside to lend to businessmen and women who were interested in starting and expanding businesses.

Moreover, Jagdeo informed that under the project, an inward investment facility would be established which would help both the residents of Linden and other parts of the country. He urged that in order for this to happen the environment needed to be created; the spin-off of which would be jobs and other business opportunities.

The President said that his government was committed to institutional strengthening but this would only be done if the public institutions would deliver a better service to the nation. He assured that there would be great participation at all levels of the project, but warned that no one project would succeed if there was not a suitable environment at the national and international levels. (Nigel Williams)