Region 8 Councillors, Toshaos address region’s sustainable development during Kato meeting
GINA, GUYANA, Thursday, March 30, 2017
A ministerial team yesterday took advantage of a Regional Democratic Council (RDC) and Toshaos meeting in the village of Kato, Region Eight to meet and interact with the regional councillors and community leaders. The team comprised Minister of Communities Ronald Bulkan, Minister of Social Cohesion Dr. George Norton and Minister within the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs Valerie Garrido-Lowe and representatives of the Ministry of Public Infrastructure and Natural Resources.
Minister Bulkan noted that the efforts are in keeping with the government’s philosophy of allowing all tiers of government to be a part of the decision-making process for the development of the country.
“Our presence here are not ornamental, nor symbolic…our presence here is meant to send a signal that the model of governance that we are committed to is one that allows for a partnership between the central government and the regional and local governments,” the minister explained.
“We are not here to fight; we are not here to seek any confrontation. We are here as part and parcel of philosophy and a model of governance that we are committed to; one that speaks to cooperation, consultation and engagement,” he pointed out.
The minister explained that the government recognises the provision which exists in the Constitution relating to national administration and governance is one which allows for the RDCs and the local councils to be the lead organs responsible not just for administration but for the management and development of their jurisdictions.
The Central Government has a responsibility to provide support and resources within its means for the delivery of the services to citizens in
the regions and communities. Thereafter it is the responsibility of the region and local councils to engage and consult with the residents to ensure the delivery of these services, Bulkan said.
During the engagement, the ministers also sought to directly address some of the issues arising out of the meeting.
The councillors and toshaos highlighted issues of the high cost of airfares, the lack of communication, transportation, education and health services and the shortage of infrastructure including roads which are affecting the sustainable development of their communities.
Of particular concern to the elected officials was that their efforts to craft budgets to address these concerns were reduced to a quarter of what the “region needs,” during the budgeting process.
Minister Garrido-Lowe however explained that whilst the government has the “country’s purse,” it has to cater to the needs of the ten administrative regions. “Everybody wants everything, but we all have to share this one purse,” the minister said. She explained that, who gets more and who get less of that purse is decided according to priority needs.
The council was urged to put some of the 2017 programmes which were cut back into the 2018 regional budget. The minister explained that the programmes may have a better chance of getting approval for funding, since the government has dealt with several major developmental issues, this year. “We can use now an allocation from here and there, so you can get what you’ve asked for, the minister advised.
Minister Bulkan noted that government would never get to the stage where there would be enough resources to take care of all of the needs of every region and every community at the same time.
This is why government has been advising councils to craft five-year development plans for their regions and districts he explained, observing that not only would this guide the regions but also central government in their budgetary allocations.
Over recent weeks, government ministers have been visiting the regions to hear from residents and community leaders on some of their challenges and some of their recommendation for development.
By: Macalia Santos