Regional committees to monitor poverty reduction strategy
Guyana Chronicle
January 24, 2004

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SIX regional outreach meetings will take place to discuss the Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRS) tomorrow.

The PRS is at the center of Guyana's development agenda and sets out national goals for growing the economy, creating new jobs, and reducing poverty. It was prepared by the Government following an extensive consultation exercise involving thousands of Guyanese from around the country.

Since the PRS Paper, or PRSP, was published in 2001, the Government has been implementing a substantial reform programme to enable Guyana to secure debt relief under the Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative.

December 2003 saw the culmination of this process, when over US$330M was secured in debt relief to be spread over 20 years.

In parallel with its programme of reform the Government has been expanding the portion of the national budget that targets those sectors prioritized during the preparation of the PRSP.

The PRS Regional Committees have been conceived as a mechanism for ensuring the sustained involvement of citizens in poverty reduction discussions.

Tomorrow's regional outreach programme is part of that process. The outreach programme has three main objectives.

1. To update participants on regional and national activities related to the PRSP;

2. To outline how communities can become involved with monitoring PRS-related activities to their region;

3. To elect representatives to the regional monitoring committees.

Monitoring committees will be operational in Regions 3 (West Demerara/Essequibo Islands), 5 (Mahaica/Berbice), 6 (East Berbice/Corentyne), 10 (Upper Demerara/Berbice) and 4 (Demerara/Mahaica), (excluding Georgetown) by the end of February. Committees will be set up in the other regions and in Georgetown at a later date.

Each Committee will have ten members - two will be the recently appointed Regional Coordinators, one will be the nominee of the Regional Administration, five will be selected from an application process, and two will be directly elected at tomorrow's consultations.

At tomorrow's consultations, which are open to residents in each region, the Regional Coordinators will outline general principles and procedures for the monitoring and evaluation of poverty reduction measures. The monitoring activity will help to ensure that these measures are implemented according to plan, and thereafter have the anticipated impact on communities.

Once the Committees are in place, further outreach meetings will take place to inform residents of each region about how they can participate in monitoring the programmes that are most important to them.