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Region Four Regional Chairman Daniel Seeram and the Regional Vice Chairman, Samuel Sandy have accused the Regional Executive Officer (REO), Donald Gajraj of bypassing the Regional Democratic Council (RDC) in the preparation of the Region’s 2022 Budget proposal in violation of the laws of the country.
During a press conference on Tuesday, the Regional Chairman said the proposed Regional Budget for 2022 has been prepared in the absence of the duly elected officials of the Regional Democratic Council (RDC) Demerara-Mahaica (Region No.4).
He said an update was sought from the REO, who was asked to attend a budget committee meeting on September 3, 2021, however, he was a no show.
Seeram said though the Regional Administration had long commenced the budget preparation, it was not until September 2, 2021 that his Office was emailed a national budget circular, stating that the proposed Regional Budget 2022 ought to be submitted on September 6, 2021 to the Ministry of Finance.
“The RDC condemns the recent action of the REO and wishes to notify all and sundry that the submission of the proposed budget for Region No.4 is not a reflection of the will of the people of Region No.4,” Seeram told reporters.
He said the Council has urged that immediate attention be given to the issue and that the necessary corrective actions begin forthwith.
“Commandeering of the Regional Budget 2022 will not be accepted in any shape or form by the regional elected officials,” he warned.
He said while the Council strives along with the governing administration to bring relief, assistance and improve the lives and livelihoods to all people of Guyana, it will not condone the violation of the laws and regulations governing local and regional organs in the country.
Seeram has written President Irfaan Ali; Minister of Local Government and Regional Development, Nigel Dharamlall; Minister within the Office of the President with responsibility for Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh on the matter with the hope that there would be a solution but to date, there has been no response.
“We therefore call on HE President Irfaan Ali to correct this malfeasance. The elected representatives of the people of Region No.4 must be consulted and the budget for 2022 must be submitted with the full blessings of the RDC,” Seeram urged.
He added: “Failing to address this concern will only prove the government’s duplicity in their quest for a better Guyana. Lack of consultation and the hijacking of the democratic processes are indeed signs of a dictatorship in the making and the disenfranchising of the people of Guyana.”
Seeram submitted that consultation is critical in crafting a regional budget, and with the short notice given by the REO, the Councillors were unable to effectively consult with their constituencies to ascertain their needs.
“This is to ensure that the democratic processes are adhere to and to ensure that fairness and transparency are also adhere to in dealing with the Region’s Budget,” he posited.
Seeram said as of 10:35hrs on Tuesday, September 7, 2021 the Office of the Regional Chairman, and or the Council had not received the proposed budget proposal.
“This is indeed a dark time. This is a deliberate act by the REO to stymie the work of the council, and to stymie the development of Region 4,” the Regional Chairman contended.
On Friday, September 10, 2021, an extra ordinary meeting of the Regional Democratic Council will be convened to discuss the proposed 2022 Regional Budget. Seeram is hopeful issues of concern will be addressed.
The Regional Vice Chairman said the REO adopted a similar stance during the preparation of the 2020 and 2021 Regional Budgets, and such ought not to be tolerated.
“Now following the flood, we would have visited a number of those areas, and there are a number of projects we would want to see in the Budget 2022, but like the chairman said, we have not received a copy of the region’s budget,” he said.
Sandy contended that the REO has arrogated unto himself powers not assigned to him under the law.
“We want the people to be represented in the budget, as it is right now, the budget does not reflect what we want as a Council, it is the REO’s budget right now, not the region’s budget,” he said.