Minister Bulkan meet Region 10 leaders to address burning issues
DPI, Guyana, Monday, March 19, 2018
A meeting, held at the Linden Enterprise Network (LEN) on Saturday, March 17 provided a platform for in-depth discussion of the issues delaying development in the Upper Demerara-Berbice region.
The Joint Local Democratic Organs Consultation saw the involvement of Minister of Communities Ronald Bulkan, Permanent Secretary (PS) to the Ministry, Emil McGarrel and representatives from the Regional Democratic Council (RDC), the Mayor and Town Council and the Kwakwani Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC).
One issue at the centre of the discussion was the financial ability of the councillors to effectively perform their duties. The councillors are of the opinion that the stipend they receive is insufficient when considering the amount of work, they are required to execute on a daily basis.
In response, Minister Bulkan said the remuneration issue is one that the government recognised that needs addressing, since its days in the opposition. The Minister noted that almost the entire structure of the council in the region needs to be revamped and brought up to modern times.
“If it is expected that the RDC delivers in accordance with the awesome responsibilities, then we must come face to face with the reality that that will not happen to the extent that it is expected unless the remuneration or the stipend is increased considerably”, Minister Bulkan stated.
The provision of a suitable mode of transportation was also raised. It was highlighted that to reach many of their constituents, councillors are often forced to seek transport from other persons. The councillors requested that this matter be addressed immediately.
The issuance of jobs to contractors outside of the region was once again discussed. It was pointed out that many local contractors are not being afforded the opportunity to benefit from projects being carried out in the community.
Addressing this issue, Permanent Secretary (PS) McGarrel said the Ministry recognised this was a problem since last year and had worked to put a system in place that would allow for more local participation in government projects, “The government has a policy with respect to the participation of contractors from the particular area where the project is being delivered.”
He also reminded that, “those contractors must meet the standard, must deliver quality.” According to McGarrel, many of the regional contracts have not been able to bid for these projects because they do not possess the relevant documents, despite being given adequate time to do so.
During the five-hour long meeting, other issues raised included, the provision better health care services and the construction of regional roads; especially that of the Kwakawni road.
Another burning issue was the ownership of land. According to Kwakwani residents, they have for many years experienced difficulty with the Guyana Lands and Survey Commission when applying for land titles.
Minister Bulkan assured those at the meeting that all issues raised will be given serious consideration and will be brought to the attention of the relevant authorities so that they can be addressed.
By: Isaiah Braithwaite