Gov’t spending on flood relief

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No doubt the destruction and damage resulting from the floods will necessitate government spending. Billions have been lost by people and businesses and some may never be able to recoup their loss or continue with their business. The government thus far has stated it will spend billions on flood relief. This may be all well and good because it is the government’s role to provide financial relief given the suffering of the people.

The flooding undoubtedly could have been managed better. Some of the damage could have been avoided were the drainage and irrigation systems properly maintained. And where national resources (money) are often directed and allocated to regions and neighbourhoods based on political strength, society will expect the allocation of flood relief will be based on needs. To do otherwise will be discriminatory.

For instance, the flooding in Kwakwani is serious. One woman could be heard on a video recording of the scene, saying in all her 60 years of living in Kwakwani she has never seen a flood like this. Kwakwani is in Region 10 which is a stronghold of the Opposition. However, this should not be a reason to deny or fail to allocate the necessary resources to restore some semblance of normalcy to the lives of the people and community.

Evidently there is an urgent need for infrastructural development that looks both at preventative and maintenance measures.  Water management development should not only apply for places like Black Bush Polder and other farming communities but also Georgetown and elsewhere. Guyana is below sea level and in the face of the Atlantic Ocean. The safety of Guyana depends on a system that prevents the Atlantic waters from coming onto the land, and a system of drainage and irrigation to take off the water on the land resulting from rain, high tide and flooding.

The drainage and irrigation systems around the country need urgent attention. This must be a priority not the usual political and anti-patriotic talks about who will get or be denied funding. There should be no conditionality for the health and safety of Guyanese. It is the government’s responsibility to do right by all the people and put partisanship aside. It is the government’s responsibility as the managers of the Treasury to ensure the money spent from the Treasury in the various regions and communities will be based on needs.

This is Guyana’s worst crisis in history. President Irfaan Ali himself acknowledged this. All Guyana will be expecting his government not only do right by all the people but repair the damages and destruction in a manner that recognises this, i.e., the worst natural disaster crisis in history. And where some Guyanese have resigned themselves that their region, village or town may be overlooked given the political partisanship, President Ali has an opportunity to prove this will not be so. The money in the Treasury belongs to all and must be spent on all Guyanese



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