–MP Jafferally says days of ‘Coalition’ disdain for the poor are over
By Rabindra Rooplall
NINETEEN low-income houses were built by the ‘Coalition’ at Experiment Village, in Region Five (Mahaica-Berbice), and not a single unit was sold because they expected the poor to pay $8.5M each.
This is according to government parliamentarian, Faizal Jafferally during his budget presentation at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (ACCC) on Tuesday.
“You know why? They are demanding $8.5M for the unit of house! This is supposed to be a poor-man’s house!” Jafferally said.
He recalled that pre-2015, under the PPP/C government, a low-income house was sold for less than $3M.
Noting that there has been no housing development in Region Five, the government MP said the tables are about to turn, as thousands of house-lots will be made available under this new administration.
Jafferally also told the House that the ‘Coalition’ government had collected monies from teachers, nurses, taxi drivers and other residents of Region Five for house-lots, but it was all a hoax.
“When these people went to locate their house-lots, they found rice fields,” he said, adding: “One teacher took her letter with the house-lot number, and found the burial ground; another teacher, based on his number, found a church. There was no land available in Region Five; it was an elections sham.”
The government has set aside over $3Billion in the National 2020 Budget to help the ailing housing sector.
Touching on another casualty of the previous government, Jafferally said farmers were oft in a state of depression, especially those in Region Five, where the canals were not desilted and in many cases in an impassable condition. Thankfully, that, too, is about to change, as agriculture is set for a major boost, thanks to the government’s pumping $18.4Billion into the sector to revitalise and revamp all related industries.
Agriculture Minister, Zulfikar Mustapha has recently dispatched 13 machines to the backlands of the Mahaica/Mahaicony/Abary (MMA) project to desilt a total of 245 canals to bring relief to those farmers who have homesteads there.
“The dams will be graded to allow rice farmers to bring their crop to the factory; that is what a caring government does,” Jafferally said.
And to bolster his argument that agriculture development in the region was poor under the ‘Coalition’, he used as a case in point the model farm which was controlled by the MMA/ADA and the Regional Democratic Council.
“When APNU+AFC took office, they bulldozed the farmers out of the land, and they spent $200M to develop the farm,” the pro-government parliamentarian said while holding aloft photographs which he passed around for persons to see for themselves what he was talking about.
“That is what they did with the model farm; denying over 60 cash-crop farmers an opportunity to live their lives,” he said.
Jafferally said it is no secret that cash-crop, poultry and cattle farmers who occupied lands for generations in Region Five were forced off of those lands under the APNU+AFC administration.
“They took the lands and gave it to their cronies; and free legal services by the Honourable Anil Nandlall assisted those farmers,” he said.
Pro-Opposition Parliamentarian, Vinceroy Jordon, who spoke on behalf of Region Five, highlighted issues facing the poor and needy there, but didn’t state what the APNU+AFC did to relieve these hardships when they were in office. Rather, he sought to lecture the government on what they ought to be doing.
“The primary purpose and function of any government is to sustain the welfare, security and well-being of people, regardless of their social or economic status, race or religion, political preference or affiliation,” Jordon said, adding: “They must be looked at as Guyanese, and as such the government must govern for all of Guyana.”
He said government’s plans and programmes must be designed to bring hope, happiness and comfort to all.
Complaining about the budgetary allocation for his region, Jordon said during the tenure of APNU+AFC coalition, public health for the district was exceptional, but the current budget lacks any development for the sector.
Jordon also claimed that the Mahaica/Berbice region was neglected under the PPP/C for over two decades, and rice cultivation suffered tremendously from poor drainage, while diary production, cattle rearing, cash crops and poultry also suffered.
In response, MP Jafferally wondered aloud whether his colleague parliamentarian was indeed living in Region Five, since he seemed to be talking about another district altogether.