Hinterland Community Development Officers urged to focus on ‘value for money’

DPI, Guyana, Monday, November 25, 2019

The need for Community Development Officers (CDOs) and Welfare Officers serving hinterland villages to practice proper accountability and ensure ‘value for money’ was the focus of a workshop held in the Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo Region (Region 9) on Friday last.

The exercise, held at the Regional Democratic Council (RDC) conference hall, examined the accomplishments and shortcomings, and work plan for 2020.

Minister of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, Hon. Sydney Allicock and Minister within the Ministry, Hon. Valerie Garrido-Lowe and Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Sherie Samantha Fedee attended the workshop in Lethem.

Region 9 – Guyana’s largest region – has six Community Development Officers and four welfare officers attached to the Indigenous Affairs Ministry, that serve all of the sub-districts – North Rupununi, Central Rupununi, South Central Rupununi and Deep South Rupununi, and the South Pakaraima.

During her address to the participants, PS Fedee spoke of the challenges of having to account for finances when the officers do not practice ‘actual-to-budget’, which refers to the process of comparing estimated results to actual results. The Fedee added that accountability should be the hallmark of the daily operations of the CDOs and welfare officers and underscored that there needs to be ‘value for money.’

“We have to operate in keeping on our work plan… You as CDOs and welfare officers also need to collaborate with the Toshaos in these areas to ensure they also operating with their work plan and ensure that they use the Presidential Grants for the project it was granted for,” the PS further explained.

Minister Allicock reminded the officers that as public servants, they must serve the residents to the best of their ability and address the many issues that affect the Indigenous Peoples.

“You are public servants providing social services. Like me, your duties are to the people, and your services are important… You are the first point of contact in any matter, and the people depend on your assistance to seek solutions to their issues… Be proactive, be selfless and selfish, be a leader and set a good example. Have respect for leaders and under the people way of life under to be effective.”

He also urged them to assist the communities in crafting plans for development that will encompass cottage industries, tourism initiatives, agro-processing ventures and development in all sectors.

Minister Garrido-Lowe explained that the administration is examining strategies to enhance the capabilities of CDOs and welfare officers to be able to carry their duties effectively. While reminding them of their mandate, the minister told the officers that they all possess the ability to function effectively; therefore it is expected that they “put their best foot forward.”

Principal Regional Development Officer (PRDO), Anil Roberts noted that next year, funds were proposed for the rehabilitation of a building in Lethem that will house a sub-office of the ministry. Sub-offices will be established in other hinterland regions.

CDOs and welfare officers are deployed in the various sub-regions of Regions 1, 7, 8 and 9, to monitor all village activities and projects, as well as assist in addressing social issues in villages.

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