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The Regional Democratic Council (RDC) of Region 10 said it categorically refutes the government’s claim that the 2023 budget intends to help this Region, and calls for the reinstatement and approval of the projects requested by the people of this Region through their elected representatives on the Regional Democratic Council.”
The RDC, in a statement, said the Minister of Finance’s 2023 budget presentation contained serious inaccuracies and omissions that will present severe hardship to the people of Region 10, even after extensive consultation with our residents and proactive submissions of developmental projects by the RDC were done to prevent this.
“A visible and irrefutable case in point is the Minister of Finance’s claim, at item 4.162 in his budget presentation that the government … ‘completed the synthetic tracks in Regions 6 and 10.’”
According to the RDC this could not be further from the truth, since the region’s constituents have clamored for the continuation of the project to complete our synthetic track for the past three years, to no avail. As of last Friday, the synthetic track at Linden remains incomplete and unavailable to the athletes in Linden and Region 10 the Region said.
Region 10 continues to produce outstanding athletes. The RDC pointed out that “indeed, the athletes of District 10, who have won the National School’s Athletics championships more times than any other Region and for the past six years in succession, are now without even the use of the Mackenzie Sports Club, their traditional preparation arena.”
One would have thought, the RDC challenged, that it would make sense to complete the track before embarking on improvements to the Mackenzie Sports Club so that an alternate venue would be available, but this type of reasoned thinking either escapes this government, or this situation is deliberately engineered to derail the fortunes of sports in Region 10 in 2023.
Speaking to the resilience and determination of the people, the RDC stated that “fortunately however, the region’s people are accustomed to battling against these imposed hardships and will continue to rise to and surmount these challenges until we are positioned to ensure they are no longer imposed.
“The 2023 Budget also represents another year of imposition of projects NOT proposed by the RDC at the expense of the removal and non-approval of projects requested by the Council on behalf of our residents.
“Our budgetary process allows for the inclusion of projects that the government wishes to undertake under various Ministries and agencies, without having to remove projects from the RDC’s budget, but this government continues to pursue a policy of not only refusing to fund projects proposed by the Council, but to remove projects proposed by the Council on behalf of our residents from our proposals, effectively ensuring that they are not even considered for funding. “
To this end, the RDC said their approach to secure funding under the agriculture programme to resources for farmers in several areas in sub-region 1 and the Kwakwani and Berbice River areas was not even considered and so has not been approved, even as we continue to grapple with means of improving agricultural production in Region 10.
The welfare of the very people who are expected to execute the various programmes and projects of the RDC to bring development to our communities and people is completely disregarded in this 2023 Budget, with the non-approval of funding to complete the Regional Democratic Council’s new headquarters, it was made known.
“It is by now common knowledge that the building that the Council and its staff occupies is unsafe structurally and has several identifiable electrical and fire safety hazards. The ground floor floods every day as a result of plumbing deficiencies and on several occasions the operations here have been brought to a halt and staff sent home as a result of sewage backing up and overflowing into office spaces.
Highlighting government’s marginalisation of Region 10, the RDC said the refusal of the government to pursue the completion of new accommodations for the staff of the RDC speaks volumes of the government’s disregard and lack of care for the people. The administration building at Kwakwani is in a similar state of disrepair and begs the question why would any government that cares for the persons in its direct employ, refuse to allocate resources to make their work environment safe and comfortable, the RDC noted.
Undeterred, the RDC pointed out:-
“The Council will step up its efforts to ensure that our staff are treated more humanely as we call for a revision of this particular omission of funding in the 2023 budget currently before the Parliament.
“The Government would also have us believe that they have significantly increased the budget, but in reality they have masked the increased cost of living by claiming that they are providing increased funding. This has a net effect of ensuring that the Council is forced to do less, even as they claim more is given in allocations this year.
“An example of this would be the budget for the office of the Regional Chairman, where in 2022, this sum was approved at G$40.5 million, and in 2023 is proposed to be capped at G$47 million. A cursory look at these figures would seem to indicate that the budget has increased. However, when statutory payments made under this budget head, such as payments of stipends to Amerindian Toshaos and Councilors are taken out, the realisation sets in that the government has actually REDUCED the budget for the Office of the Regional Chairman by nearly G$1 million for 2023.
“To compound this, when cost of living increases are factored in, you can see that the RDC is being forced to do less work in Region 10 due to a net reduction in its funding. Fuel, spares and maintenance costs to facilitate our interaction with residents across the 6,555 square miles of this “Region, from the Berbice River to the upper reaches of the Demerara and the Essequibo River communities as well, are much higher today than they were in 2022, yet our budget has been slashed. Again, we call on the government to replace and indeed to improve on this funding to ensure that the work necessary to advance the development of our people in Region 10 could be done effectively and efficiently.”
The RDC said the Council has chosen to put the spotlight on these particular issues, the situation outlined in this statement with respect to removal of projects from the Council’s proposals, the reduction of funding and removal of facilities needed by our residents without providing alternatives are factual and demonstrable and also extends to many other areas and across their various work programmes.