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President Bharrat Jagdeo had several rounds of meetings with officials in the United States last week. He said he broached the subject of crime in Guyana, stressing the need for understanding and assistance.
At a meeting with the US Deputy Secretary of State, the President said he raised the issue of deportees and should get a response within one week, on the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the US and Guyana governments. That MOU would ensure Guyana gets more information on deportees coming back to Guyana. That information will help in the resettlement of those deportees, the President said.
“We have received a significant amount of help from several governments - the British government especially and the American government on the drugs side … Additionally, we’re working on a US$10M loan with the IDB to enhance investigative capabilities of the Police Force, intelligence and all of those things, and to upgrade the professionalism of the Force too.
“But the kind of help I requested specifically of the Deputy Secretary of State is more info on deportees, so that people could be screened,” the President said, referring to the passage of legislation requiring deportees who have committed certain offences to report to the Police. A person who has committed an immigration offence or other “small type offences” could be screened out, the President said.
The money will also go towards the resettlement of the deportees, since many of them return here with very little and no place to call home.
“I’m trying to put together a little programme to meet with them and give them some basic things, but it’s still not enough,” President Jagdeo said, adding that those who may not want to return to a life of crime may nevertheless be forced into it because “society does not really treat them well”.
Meanwhile, the President indicated that many of the projects for which government has already secured some US$400M in loans and grants from the IDB, will be implemented this year.
Among the projects is the resurfacing of the Mahaica/Rosignol roadway. A $22M contract has been awarded for that venture. Contracts have also been awarded to repair bridges and to resurface the runway at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport, Timehri.
“This year, once we start to implement those projects, then we can generate a lot of turn-over cash in the economy, (and) employment in many areas.
“We also discussed with the IDB a pipeline of projects for the future, about US$300M worth of projects, including in areas that are critical: a second road to the airport and already we are moving ahead with the feasibility study. That loan should be approved by 2004 to build a bypass from the city straight to the airport because the East Bank road would not be able to handle the traffic in the future,” the President said.
He added that government is also seeking US$10M to build a new incinerator to take care of garbage collection in the city for another 100 years.
Drainage and irrigation as well as housing projects are also in the pipeline.