Communities Ministry’s $8.3 billion budget approved
– Increased stipends for Regional and Township officials
– Subventions for municipalities increased
– Georgetown restoration project receives $300M
DPI, Guyana, Wednesday, December 12, 2018
The Ministry of Communities’ 2019 budgetary allocation of $8,321,699 Billion was approved by the National Assembly this morning. The ministry was allocated for Current Expenditure, $2, 772, 199 Billion and under Capital Expenditure, $5, 549, 500 billion was allocated.
In response to queries about contracted employees, Minister of Communities Ronald Bulkan committed to lay over the list for further perusal citing the salaries for the Permanent Secretary, Legal Adviser and Ministerial Advisers. He also explained that 15 of 21 contractual staffers were so employed due to them being over the age for pensionable employment.
The increase in funds, versus 2019 for Mayors, REO and NDC staffers was due to approved increases for salaries. Regional Chairs will receive $300,00; Regional Vice Chairs $240,000; the Four Hinterland Mayors $110,000 and their Deputy Mayors $85,000; Coastal Mayors $75,000 and their Deputies $65,000; Hinterland Town Clerks $78,000; Councillors $55,000; Overseers $40,000.
These increases resulted from a meeting of the National Conference of Local Democratic Organs held earlier this year. Minister Bulkan added that new municipalities will also benefit from additional funding, along with stipends for community enhancement workers.
The Communities Minister informed the House that funding for National Events will cover participation in 13 National holidays and events such as Heritage Month and Regional and Agricultural Exhibitions. It was confirmed that $124Million will be used to expedite recommendation arising from the Local Government’s Commission recommendations. Municipality’s subventions totalling $210Million includes – $30Million for Georgetown $18Million for each of the four new townships and the five Neighbourhood Democratic Councils will each receive $5Million. New NDC areas will be provided with funds to facilitate new officers and other personnel, the minister added.
Project Development and Assistance was allocated a reduced sum. Minister Bulkan explained that the expenditure, formally recurrent in nature, was shifted to another area hence there was no actual reduction. Responding to a question concerning the increase in Local Travel and Subsistence, the Minister explained that the $3.5Million increase will allow for more field trips and monitoring of two Caribbean Development funded projects.
The National Valuation Exercise is expected to commence early in 2019, with a pilot project already underway in New Amsterdam, under the Municipal Property. Assessment of Ontario, a Canadian based company. A Cabinet-approved contract was inked to allow for mass property evaluations over an 18-month period, Minister Bulkan stated, at a cost of $320Million.
Georgetown Restoration Project
A $300Million Georgetown Restoration Project will see work being done on the construction of a $75Million administration building to accommodate staffers of the City Hall, whilst planned restoration works will begin on City Hall. The European Union has committed to grant government US$3Million to render architectural drawings needed before the actual rehabilitation begins. This was put to the House, this afternoon, in response to several questions raised by Opposition members.
Minister Bulkan revealed that the project will entail three sections. These include $25Million for Community Enhancement, $200Million for Infrastructural Development and $75Million for Institutional Strengthening and Capacity Building.
It was explained that the $25Million for the Community Enhancement Phase will include grants for community projects that have to meet strict criteria, and will be divided equally between the five NDCs. Work on the La Penitence, the East Ruimveldt and the second phase of the Kitty Market upgrades will comprise the Infrastructural Development section.
After being put to the House, the budget was passed unanimously.
Paul Mc Adam.
Images: Jameel Mohamed.