Gov’t to operationalise Belvedere, Lethem incubators

-$100M set aside to equip and furnish Lethem Industrial Estate
-feasibility studies for industrial estates in Regs. 2 and 10

Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce, Hon. Oneidge Walrond says the Government would soon operationalise the Belvedere Business Incubator and the Lethem Industrial Estate in the interest of the people.

The Minister made this statement during her contribution to the 2021 Budget debate in the National Assembly.

Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce, Hon. Oneidge Walrond makes her contribution during the 2021 Budget debate.

She said the Government is committed to completing these projects started under the previous administration as they were intended to promote entrepreneurship and create jobs.

The Belvedere Business Incubator was launched in February 2020 by former Minister of Business and Member of Parliament, Hon. Haimraj Rajkumar. The Incubator’s purpose was to provide a space for entrepreneurs to hone their practical and theoretical skills.

However, Minister Walrond said, when the PPP/C Government came into office, the building had no electricity, no equipment or staff and the six pods touted to have specialised functions were unoccupied.

“Today I am pleased to report that in November 2020, electricity was restored to the Belvedere Business Incubator Centre, all of the equipment was procured and will be delivered to site shortly.

We will truly, be able to truly and fully operationalise the Incubator in a matter of months and its facilities will be made available on an equitable, non-discriminatory basis in an open and transparent manner. We estimate that around 120 jobs will be created through the projects that will utilise these facilities,” Minister Walrond said.

The Lethem Industrial Estate, which was slated to be operationalised in May 2019 by former Minister of Business, Mr. Dominic Gaskin, never got off the ground.  

Minister Walrond said the Auditor General’s reports of 2016 and 2019 revealed that there was poor supervision of the works, which led to substandard work. The reports also noted that physical verification of the project in July 2019 revealed that works were not completed despite a May 2019 deadline.

“Mr. Speaker it gives me no pleasure to say it because it is the citizens of Region Nine who ultimately suffer, but when we took office in 2020, the Lethem Industrial Estate had no lessee with construction work incomplete, and not a single piece of equipment that was needed had been procured.

As a Government, we commit to ensuring that the intended benefits of the estate are achieved. That is, improved infrastructure for business in order to spur economic development and job creation. That is why in Budget 2021, we have allocated $100 million for the procurement of equipment to operationalise and furnish the Lethem Incubator,” she said.

Government has had continuous engagement with the contractor of the project and has put stringent measures in place to ensure its completion.  

Minister Walrond also relayed that the Expression of Interest for the leasing of the lots of the estates has been published and applications that were submitted are being reviewed.

“We will soon see the Lethem Industrial Estate and the Incubator serving its intended purpose. All Guyanese without regard to class, race, gender, orientation or whatever line they may come up with to divide us, will have a fair opportunity from this inclusive Government, to benefit,” she said.

Minister Walrond said the Government is committed to industrial development countrywide and would, this year, start feasibility studies for industrial estates in Regions Two and Ten.

These additional sites and their associated projects will provide scores of good paying jobs to the people of these regions thus improving their standard of living,” she said.

Minister Walrond noted that the Government’ mandate is to deliver development countrywide.

The $383.1 billion 2021 National Budget was presented under the theme, “A Path to Recovery, Economic Dynamism and Resilience.”

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