–as House clears $18.9B for Local Government Ministry
–Dharamlall calls out APNU/AFC for neglecting City Hall
GUYANA’S lawmakers, on Wednesday, approved the sum of $18.9 billion allocated to the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development, as the consideration of estimates entered day three.
Subject Minister Nigel Dharamlall said that the money was much needed, especially the $263.1M, which is also allocated for the continued restoration of the iconic City Hall building in central Georgetown.
Under the Community Infrastructure Improvement Project, $13.1 billion was allocated for the Mon Repos, Parika, and Leonora Markets, along with the provision for community enhancement programmes and the National Pathway Workers Project.
“These markets have been a hodgepodge… “We have decided as a government to enhance the quality of services at the markets, and we have consistently been upgrading these markets in different phases,” the Minister told the Committee of Supply.
For project development and assistance, $1 billion was budgeted for the subvention to municipalities and neighbourhood democratic councils across the regions.
Meanwhile, under the Regional Economic Transformation, $1.5 billion was allotted to the Sustainable Livelihood and Entrepreneurial Development (SLED) projects and programmes.
Further, the sum of $1B was also approved for the Solid Waste Disposal Programme to construct a stormwater pond and landfill gas management system at the Haags Bosch Sanitary Landfill Site.
The money will also be used to build landfills in Blairmont, Zorg-en-Vlygt, Kildonan, Bon Success, and Kara-Kara. It will also facilitate the closure of dumpsites at Charity, Lima, D’Edward and Esplande.
The House also approved the sum of $27.5M for furniture, equipment, and infrastructural development.
Dharamlall took questions about his ministry from Shadow Minister and Member of Parliament (MP) Ganesh Mahipaul of the A Partnership for National Unity and Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC), who wanted an update on the City Hall Project.
Under the Georgetown Enhancement Programme, the restoration of the City Hall building is projected to cost some $780.7M, and Minister Dharamlall told the committee it is on track for completion this year.
The $780 million contract was signed on September 24, 2021, with Fidis Guyana Incorporated.
The Minister called out the opposition for neglecting the local landmark, an onus that the People’s Progressive Party/ Civic (PPP/C) will take.
“City Hall has been in a dilapidated state for a very, very long time, to no fault of this government. One of President [Dr Irfaan] Ali’s commitments as soon as he took office was the transformation of Georgetown.”
Minister Dharamlall continued: “this building has been under the Administration of the City Council for all of the years that the council has been in existence, and it is quite alarming that…. The City Council of Georgetown is controlled primarily and almost exclusively by the People’s National Congress, and of recent vintage, the APNU+AFC, of which PNC is the primary party.”
He explained to the Committee that under the administration of APNU+AFC, City Hall was left to “rot” and become “a national embarrassment” for Guyana.
“The city transcends the politics of our country and even goes beyond the minute details.” They [APNU+AFC] have refused to put resources towards cleaning Georgetown. They have refused to put resources towards the restoration of City Hall. They have refused to put resources towards safety and security in the city, where the constabulary has been hamstrung for decades.”
Further, the Minister underscored, “they have refused to put resources into the markets of Georgetown. They have refused to put resources towards the upliftment of the aesthetics of the city. But whilst they’ve refused to do almost everything to be done in the city, they have spent in excess of $2.1 billion dollars per year…A lot of the resources went for political purposes rather than to fix City Hall.”
He added that the PPP/C government remains “steadfast” in restoring Georgetown to its original glory—the Garden City, which houses Guyana’s largest urban population.
While explaining that the restoration is quite an intricate exercise, Dharamlall said that many other issues are being found in the building.
However, he assured the Committee that this would also be fixed.
“We will not cash strap this process at the expense of compromising on the quality of the work. But we have done tremendous work already. And so far, we are on time to complete the contract at the end of the contract period,” he added.
The Minister chided the Opposition for not visiting the ongoing work at City Hall and for not partaking in the city-wide clean-up exercise, which is being led by President Irfaan Ali and is aimed at creating a family-oriented city.