Region 6 RDC accused of ignoring budget proposal by NDCs

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Assistant to the Prime Minister in Region 6, Gobin Harbhajan

THE People’s Progressive Party /Civic (PPP/C) dominated RDC in Region 6 (East Berbice/Courentyne) has been accused of disregarding recommendations for projects emanating from Neighborhood Democratic Councils (NDCs), grassroots organisations and leaders in the formulation of their 2017 budget.“They asked the people to participate in keeping with the principle of good governance but then having got the proposals, they simply dumped these projects and a few people. At least two of them, Vice-Chairman Denis DeRoop and the Regional Engineer Roopesh, decided what they wanted to do and did it. None of the grassroots proposals were taken on board in this budget, which is now being concretised by the Ministry of Finance,” Regional Councillor Gobin Harbhajan said.

He said that the planning of the capital works was mostly done by DeRoop and Roopesh, who neglected to reflect the priority projects submitted by many of the NDCs, much to the chagrin of the chairpersons and overseers.

Harbhajan, who is also the representative of the Prime Minister in the Region, has been supported by the Head of one PPP/C NDC and a few Councillors who have expressed disgust at the way the PPP/C Region 6 administration handled the recommendations from the NDCs.

“Guyanese have a deep desire to be involved in decision-making about what kinds of services and infrastructure are to be delivered in their local area. They have enough knowledge to decide what is needed to improve the quality of life where they live. Sadly this principle was total neglected by the current administration of Region6,” Haseef Yusuff, who is Chairman of the PPP/C dominated Kilcoy/Hampshire NDC said last week.

He added, “There they are these two guys driving around in a 4×4 vehicle and deciding what they wanted to do, totally ignoring the views of others. They are completely forgetting that not everybody in Region 6 is a PPP/C supporter.”

He said that the arbitrary actions of the administration had resulted in a farce of budget.

“Among other things, there were no consultations with the Chambers of Commerce within the Region. Nothing new. The Region 6 budget is all about repairing this, rehabilitating something else. There is not a single sustainable development project. There is nothing that can give the Region a necessary economic boost,” Yusuff said.

Councillor Takie of the Lancaster/Alness NDC made similar disparaging remarks about the way NDC proposals were dumped by Vice-Chairman De Roop and the Regional Engineer Roopesh.

He said, “Whatever projects we put in from the NDC levels, what we find is that the two men rejected these. They altered the preferences of the NDCS and the grassroots community leaders to suit themselves.”

“We had local government elections. The communities are supposed to be empowered. They said we giving power to the people. Where is the power to the people? The people are just like rubber stamps. The PPP/C people just going right ahead and doing what they want to do.”

Takie also noted that the arbitrary approach to the 2017 budget had some implications for accountability. “I have seen an engineer’s estimate for the construction of a bus-shed in an NDC at a cost of $500,000. Why so much? Any NDC can build a bus-shed for between $300,000 to $350,000, or even less. Why not give the money to the NDC and let them do it at a far cheaper price?” he queried.