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…Figueira tells House in stinging rebuke of Ramson
A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) Member of Parliament, Jermaine Figueira told the National Assembly that despite injecting billions of dollars in the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports, the Irfaan Ali Administration has thus far failed to outline clear developmental plans for the advancement of Culture, Youth and Sport in Guyana.
“Our young people want you minister to tell us, tell this nation what are the ministry’s plans for the billions more it has received to develop, enhance and propel Guyana to higher heights in culture and sports with the collective contributions of our country’s most valuable assets, our youths,” Figueira said as he challenged the Culture, Youth and Sport Minister, Charles Ramson Jr. to provide answers.
Ramson in response used most of his time allotted to talk about elections rigging and other allegations against opposition MPs and failed to present on the plans for his sector.
Noting that sports has to play a more defining role in carving out a national identity, the Opposition MP, who hails from Linden, Region 10, accused Minister Ramson of being visionless in the area of sports.
He said under the stewardship of Minister Ramson, the Government has failed to provide an overarching and time- bound developmental plan for the country’s future in sports and all of its disciplines.
“Mr. Speaker there are 40 Olympic disciplines, 33 summer and 7 winter Olympic games respectively of which our options to choose from to competitively participate are endless. Mr. Speaker the opportunity is before us to identify and prepare for several identified sports disciple of which we have the greatest chance of winning Olympic medals and focus on those disciplines as a national priority with a time frame, but of course Mr. Speaker not forsaking the potentials of the other discipline. We must have a phase by phase development strategy,” he told the House.
He submitted that the National Sports Commission must endeavour to honour its mandate and be deliberate in thought and action to have a national plan in tandem with the contributions of the respective sports associations, federation and affiliates for a national developmental plan for all sports discipline.
“What is interesting to note Mr. Speaker is what is being advanced, the perceived or as a matter of fact the gross conflict of interest of leading members of the commission, advancing their own selfish interest of profiting off the state’s resources and abusing the access of its facilities for the promotion of their own business interest,” the MP said.
It is important, he said, for the country to invest in the lives of men and women in sports, not only the athletes but the technical personnel such as the coaches, referees, nutritionists and other players in the industry, so that they in return can provide the best training and technical guidance that is required to succeed.
Additionally, he told the House that whilst funds have been budgeted for ground enhancement, the facilities are underutilised, and in most cases, during the rainy season, the venues are of little use to the intended sport discipline.
Figueira said the Ministry’s focus on sports must go beyond ground enhancement, ball distribution, and “hustling the states resources for self-benefits.”
Turning his attention to Culture, the Opposition MP made a case for upgrades to be done to the National Museum, which is reportedly in a dire state, particularly its exterior environs.
He said necessary steps must be taken to preserve the country’s historical buildings, monuments and landmarks.
Further, he submitted that the Administration’s lopsided approach in promoting the country’s culture is evident in how it treats with Mashramani.
“We have seen and it is very sad, that Mashramani one of our national cultural events has not been given the type of government support for it to grow and mushroom into the country’s number one cultural event that showcases our Guyanese identity on an international scale.
Mr. Speaker, Mashramani should be given the much-needed resources and branded to the world as Guyana’s version of carnival as crop over is to Barbados,” he told the House.
Additionally, he said there should be opportunities for young people to participate in the arts of theaters acting, play write, videography, and directing. “…we need to see our own people in our locally produced movies, sitcom, cartoons with our own Guyanese dialect,” he posited while noting that the time has come for Guyana to establish its own film industry.
Similarly, Figueira said developments in the area of youth leave much to desired as he pointed to the thousands of young people, many of whom though qualify, are unemployed or underemployed. Generally, he said the 2022 Budget fails to address the economic and social hardships facing the poor and working class.
Ramson Jr., in his presentation, assured the House that in 2022 there will be more upgrades to community grounds, grounds he contended that were neglected by the APNU+AFC Administration. The upgrades include, among other things, the installation of flood lights.
“I’m pleased as well to announce … that in this year’s budget there will be $250 million in our budget for ground enhancement,” he stated.
He pointed out that $3.15B has been budgeted for the Sport Sector of which $2.4B has been set aside for capital project.
“… every single sport association and federation has issued statements for the first time in the history of this country in support of the government, in support of the ministry, in support of the programme and the relationship that they have with the minister and the National Sports Commission,” Minister Ramson boasted.
He also rubbished claims by Figueira that the 2022 Budget is not pro-poor, submitting that it will a critical role in transforming the lives of all Guyanese.
“With this budget, the President Ali led PPP/C Government is about to commence the transformation of Guyana into a modern and prosperous country in front of our very eyes. All our promises we’ve presented in our manifesto, we will keep and we will honour every single one,” he assured.