…says over $950.1M injected into regional villages
RUBBISHING claims of neglect, corruption, and abuse of resources in Region Nine (Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo), the Regional Executive Officer (REO) Carl Parker, in a missive on Monday, pointed out that over $950.1M has been pumped into the region to address the developmental needs of the villages for the period 2015-2018.
The figure, he was keen on pointing out, does not include finances allocated to the region’s villages for 2019. Parker, who was blunt in his remarks, was at the time responding to statements made by Region Nine Vice Regional Chairman, Karl Singh, during a People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Press Conference on Friday, October 11, 2019.
Singh, who sat alongside Region One’s Regional Chairman, Brentnol Ashley, and PPP/C Member of Parliament, Nigel Dharamlall, accused the A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC) of stymieing the development within the district while abusing its resources. But these allegations, Parker said, are intended to misinform the population about the developments within the district as they are far from the truth.
“The Regional Vice Chairman has walked right up my alley, in the middle of the night without torchlight. He is delusional to think that there will be light for him to see; but I do not expect any better from a man who is so desperate that he is hoping that people out there are easily fooled. He has not remembered there is a thing called social media, a medium that is replete with the works that have been done, not only in Region 9, but across the entire country,” Parker said as he dispelled the allegations made by Singh. Parker has been a resident of the Rupununi since July 18, 1991.
Refuting the allegation that donations made to villages are subsequently reclaimed by “party officials,” Parker said the Vice Regional Chairman is in panic mode at the prospects of his party – the PPP/C – losing its grip on the villages that were iron clad since 1992.
“What I am aware of, is the fact that a Farmers’ Group in Parikwarinau had petitioned the Regional Administration for a boat and engine to assist them to get their produce from their farms across the Sawariwau River to their village. That boat was handed over to them on the recent Ministerial Outreach. I am aware too, that the Toshao had wanted the boat to be handed over to the Village Council, a Council that has serious accountability issues,” Parker said.
Singh had also contended that developments were being stymied in the region due to, among others, the inconsistency in holding statutory meetings at the level of the Regional Democratic Council (RDC) but Parker said the Regional Chairman and Regional Vice Chairman have only themselves to blame. He noted that only one statutory meeting was held for 2019, and that was in January.
“After that, the Regional Chairman and Vice were on their regular outing in villages campaigning as a result of the No-Confidence Motion (NCM), and their expectations that elections would be held before the end of the year. In fact, many visits to their offices by me were met with their absence. The Regional Vice Chairman, Karl Singh, who is also a member of the Regional Tender Board (RTB), could not be reached for his invitations to be delivered to him. As a result, he has not attended one meeting since my assumption of duties in the Region on January 7th,” Parker explained.
He said although Singh has shown little or no interest in the development of the district, minutes of the RTB meeting were still delivered to his office. “Not expecting the level of progress in the Region without his input, the Regional Chairman penned a letter to the Public Procurement Commission, requesting an investigation into unfounded allegations of the Board, but more specifically, the Chairman of the Board. That investigation was conducted and, like the Regional Vice Chairman, I too am awaiting the PPC’s report,” the REO further pointed out. Nonetheless, he said this and other investigations of REOs have demonstrated Government’s commitment to transparency.
Turning his attention to the claim that donations from Food for the Poor (FFTP) are being used for campaign purposes, the REO said, it would appear that the Regional Vice Chairman is delusional
“A check with that organization will reveal that they are more than satisfied with the way their donations are distributed across communities in the Region. The FFTP requires strict accountability. As the Officer that has forged a relationship with the FFTP, I ensure that all communities, irrespective of their political preferences, benefit from those donations.
To illustrate, I have distributed donations to Aishalton, Parikwarinau, Shulinab, Karasabai, Achawib, Karudarnaua, Awarewaunau, Nappi, Parisharra, Shirriri, among others. None of the villages mentioned, supported the Coalition in the 2015 elections,” Parker explained while iterating that the assertions cannot be substantiated. He said the Vice Chairman’s attempt to drag Food for the Poor into his politics deserves to be condemned by all.
The REO noted that while the Regional Chairman and the Vice Chairman continue to play politics, he has been actively meeting the needs of the people with much support from the APNU+AFC Government. Mechanical tillers, he pointed out, were distributed to both farmers’ groups and individual farmers while sewing machines were distributed to women’s groups to enable them to sew school uniforms and, in the process, earn for themselves and families. Additionally, farming implements and seeds were distributed to farmers’ groups, individuals and Village Councils.
He added too that instead of depending heavily on the Civil Defence Commission (CDC) for assistance in times of hardship, the Government, through the RDC, has been equipping villages with the requisite skills and knowledge needed to allow for them to maximize the use of their lands in the area of agriculture.
“A comparison of the allocation for Agriculture under the two administrations will reveal who was really serious about agriculture. Since 2015 this administration has led communities to engage in climate-smart agriculture. In this regard more than 10 shade houses were constructed for the Secondary Schools and communities. The Regional Administration has encouraged communities to increase production since there is a ready market for their produce through the 4 dormitories and the School Feeding program.
We have constructed slaughter poles in every sub-region. This will negate the need for cattle farmers to travel all the way to Lethem to use the abattoir there,” Parker detailed.
He said the assertion that the government has not extended the ‘good life’ to Rupununians can be easily debunked.
To prove his case, Parker pointed out that between 2015 and 2018, close to one billion dollars were directly injected into villages within the region. St Ignatius Village ($103,666,613), Lethem ($260,173,601), Moco Moco ($9,283,580), Rupertee ($4,453,580), Surama ($9,966,430), Toka ($7,463,980), Sawariwau ($1,475,300), Maruranau ($9,760,145), Tiger Pond ($16,124,549), Hiowa ($14,600,000), Parisharra ($13,500,000), Nappi ($18,454,190), Quarrie ($14,410,680), Annai ($87,695,302), Wowetta ($3,932,600), Rewa ($5,276,740), Aishalton ($121,901,485), Karudarnaua ($14,374,240), Shulinab ($42,037,264), Kaicumbay ($13,800,000), Yupukari ($9,668,586), Kwatamang ($8,498,000), Aranaputa ($56,496,379), Katoonarib ($12,475,200), Achawib ($27,679,683), Karasabai ($14,364,663) and Sand Creek ($48,643,788) are the villages that have benefited from direct investment by the government.
“Maybe it will be instructive to see the allocations to this Region in any four-year term under the previous administration. These figures represent the Capital expenditure only. Much more would have been spent under the Recurrent Budget,” Parker said.
Additionally, there have been several interventions by other Central Government Ministries across the Region. The total funds spent in this Region would amount to billions of dollars the REO said.