27 Moruca villages receive one-off $225M COVID-19 relief grant

-to boost economic, social development in Amerindian communities

Twenty-seven villages in Moruca sub-district, Barima-Waini (Region One) benefited from a total of $225 million from the Government’s one-off COVID-19 relief grant.

Minister of Housing and Water, Hon. Collin Croal

The one-off village grant, which saw villages receiving from $3 million to $15 million based on their populations, seeks to boost economic and social development within Amerindian communities amid the pandemic.

Minister of Housing and Water, Hon. Collin Croal travelled to the Region on Friday, where he handed over the cheques to the toshaos and senior councillors of the villages. He was accompanied by Regional Chairman, Mr. Brentnol Ashley, and Regional Vice-Chairman, Ms. Annansha Peters, Regional Executive Officer, Mr. Teka Bissessar, and Management Development Officer (MDO) at the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs, Mr John Ramsingh.

The villages that benefited from the grants are Chinese Landing, Kokerite, Waikarebi, Kariako, Warapoka, Assakata, Kwebanna, Father’s Beach, Waramuri, Haimacabra, Manawarin, Morawhanna, Santa Cruz, Mora, Parakese, Santa Rosa and Islands, Huridiah, Kamwatta, Karaburi, Koko, Rincon, Cabora, Unity Grant, Skyland, Kumaka, Wallaba and Arwansa.

Minister of Housing and Water, Hon. Collin Croal handing over a cheque to one of the village leaders

Speaking at the Santa Rosa Secondary School, Minister Croal said the initiative is one that President Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali promised to bring relief to the hinterland and Amerindian villages affected by the pandemic.

“Our Government, very early when we got into office in August, we signalled our intention to ensure that we put systems in place that we can keep our economy afloat for you and your communities who are feeling the effect, the brunt of that effect, to put mechanisms in place so that we can start bringing relief to your communities,” Minister Croal said.

The Minister noted that this initiative complements the $25,000 per household COVID-19 relief cash grant, which is being distributed countrywide.  He also said the second round of distributions of that grant will begin next week in Moruca.

Minister Croal encouraged the village leaders to ensure the residents are consulted on the proposed projects that will be executed. Those projects, he said, must be economically viable, and more importantly, create job opportunities.

That is how we operate as a Government, whatever programmes we implement will benefit everyone. Therefore, whatever projects you decide must have the broadest possible participation in deciding the projects for your communities and that is very important because as leaders we have the responsibility to ensure that the decision making that we are involved in has the opinion of the community at large.”

The Minister also emphasised the need to maintain proper governance at the village level, and ensure transparency and accountability in the spending of the funds.

Regional Chairman, Mr. Brentnol Ashley handing over the cheque to one of the village leaders

Meanwhile, the Regional Chairman said the people of the Moruca sub-district have already begun to experience the transformation which the Government promised while campaigning for the March 2, 2020 General and Regional Elections and that transformation will continue.

To this end, Mr. Ashley announced that this year’s proposed budget for the Region will exceed $6 billion, making it the largest budget ever to be allocated to the Barima-Waini.

Regional Chairman, Mr. Brentnol Ashley

“Your village will be benefitting developmental projects because it’s a developmental agenda we have for this region,” he told the village leaders.

The cheques have a shelf life of six months. Therefore, the villages have five months to submit their project proposals to the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs for approval before executing them.  

The exercise will continue in the Matarkai sub-district and Mabaruma on Monday and Tuesday respectively.