Budget 2017 to spur hinterland development – improved access high on agenda
GINA, GUYANA, Monday, November 28, 2016
Improved access to the hinterland is one of the highlights coming out of the budget for the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs. Approximately, $2.5B of the $13B allocated will go towards the construction, rehabilitation and maintenance of hinterland roads and bridges.
This was disclosed on Monday by Minister of Finance Winston Jordan, during the presentation of the 2017 National Budget under the theme ‘Building a diversified, green economy; delivering the good life to all Guyanese.”
Minister Jordan stated that to further increase connectivity between the coast and the hinterland, the government will “commence the first phase of the Linden to Lethem Road project, which spans Linden to Mabura Hill.”
Other development covers reduced cost of living, an expanded range of health services, improved quality of education, food security, cultural preservation, job creation and reliable and renewable energy.
The sum of $300M was allocated to house more medical professionals and trained teachers. Acknowledging the difference of education on the coast and in the hinterland, the Finance Minister noted that there will be expansion and rehabilitation of four practical instruction centres in Mabaruma, Bartica, Mahdia, and Lethem.
Additionally, Minister Jordan stated, “government will be investing $111M in the Bina Hill Institute, Region Nine to construct dormitories, living quarters, and other facilities, and about $90M for the provision of school uniforms for approximately 34,000 students.” Also, for 2017, the Hinterland Scholarship Programme is expected to be expanded to cater for 530 students, an increase from the 450 that was budgeted for in 2016.
Minister Jordan also pointed out that $991M is allocated for the continuation of the Hinterland Employment and Youth Service (HEYS) programme. This will allow for an additional 1000 youths to be trained. In 2016, 1,976 benefitted.
Minister Jordan noted that $100M has been allocated for the construction of 115 subsidised housing units and 45 roof and water catchment system subsidies in Regions One and Nine. This will be done under the Hinterland Sustainable Housing Programme.
The 2017 Budget provides for continued development of energy infrastructure. This will include “the expansion of the Mahdia power distribution network and provision for the establishment of a solar energy farm in Mabaruma.”
Hinterland residents can expect improved information sharing as the sum of $150M has been allocated for the establishment of four radio stations in selected hinterland communities. Radio announcers will be using radio stations to share information in their respective native languages.
According to the Minister Jordan, “government intends to do its utmost to preserve the cultural richness of our Indigenous peoples, even as we pursue accelerated development of the hinterland.”
The four radio stations are an addition to Radio Mabaruma, Lethem, and Paiwomak.
By: Isaiah Braithwaite