Participants at consultation want quick PRSP action by Jaime Hall
Guyana Chronicle
January 26, 2004

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PARTICIPANTS at a public consultation on the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) want those responsible for executing the programme to talk less and get down to quick, effective action.

That was their consensus when they met for several hours at Diamond Community Center yesterday.

Several persons representing a number of communities spread across Region 4 (Demerara/Mahaica) said they were prepared to work along with the regional PRSP committees, providing the committees were action- and results-oriented and prepared to move quickly to reduce poverty in the country's rural areas.

The consultation was one of six convened in five of the country's ten administrative regions - but the mood for action seemed to echo conclusions at the other five - at Zeeburg Secondary School, Paradise Primary School, Bush Lot Secondary School, the Tain Campus of the University of Guyana, and Mackenzie High School - where officials said they expected an eagerness by people for a reduction of or an end to poverty in their respective communities.

The Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper is now at the centre of Guyana's development agenda, which sets out national goals for economic development, creating new jobs and reducing poverty.

Government prepared the PRSP following an extensive consultation exercise countrywide involving thousands of Guyanese.

The main objectives of the programme are to update participants on the regional and national objectives, related to the PRSP, to outline how communities could become involved with monitoring PRSP-related activities in their communities and to elect representatives to the regional monitoring committees.

Yesterday's consultation at Diamond, East Bank Demarara, was conducted by Coordinator, Mr. Glendon Critchlow.

By the end of February, monitoring committees will be operational in four of the ten administrative regions - 3, 5, 6, 10 and 4, excluding Georgetown.

Committees will also be set up in other regions and in Georgetown at a later date.

Each committee will have ten members - two will be recently-appointed regional coordinators, one will be the nominee of the regional administration, five will be selected from an application process and two were due to be elected at yesterday's consultations.

Since this strategy paper was published in 2001, government has been implementing a substantial reform programme to enable Guyana to secure debt relief under the HIPIC initiative.

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

In support of its programme, government has been expending the portions of its national budget that targets those sectors prioritized during the preparation of the PRSP.

The PRSP regional committees are the mechanism for ensuring sustained involvement of citizens in poverty reduction discussions as part of the process of the outreach programme.