$21B in supplemental funds approved for flood relief by National Assembly
After a lengthy debate in which the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) interrogated the monies being sought by the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) Government, particularly monies to help the thousands affected by floods, over $21 billion in supplemental funds were approved.
Two financial papers were considered during Monday’s 29th sitting of the 12th Parliament. One paper, for supplementary estimates of current and capital expenditure totalled $1.9 billion, while the other was for current and capital supplementary estimates, totalling $21.3 billion.
The second financial paper included a current sum of $10 billion for the flood relief efforts under the heading of Disaster Preparedness, Response and Management. Prime Minister, Retired Brigadier General Mark Phillips, who fielded questions from Opposition Leader Joseph Harmon pertaining to the allocation, noted that the Government is being proactive in seeking the funds even while assessments are ongoing.
“There is no disaggregation at present, because we are doing the assessment now as a responsible Government. We are in the relief phase of this operation. It is expected that following the relief phase, we’ll have a recovery phase. And what we’re doing here is asking for this money because we’re assessing now and we’re planning for the recovery phase and we know there will be expenditure to repair, to continue to provide food hampers for the people affected.”
“There is expenditure related to the repair of roads. A lot of drainage and irrigation related work purchase of equipment, like water storage, purification. Manning shelters over an extended period of time. As a responsible Government, we are not going to be reactionary but be forced to be proactive and ask for money now, so we can deal with these issues as they come,” the Prime Minister further explained.
According to Phillips, the assessment is being done by the Civil Defence Commission (CDC). He assured that the Government will cater for all flood-affected areas, while urging the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) to come on board and identify any gaps in the Government’s provision of aid, so that it could be addressed.
Sparks flew later in the session when APNU/AFC MP Jermaine Figueira questioned the distribution of cleaning agents and what the Government is doing to help residents. The Prime Minister explained that in the long-term approach, the State will look to relocate the residents of Kwakwani and other areas whose houses are inundated in water.
According to him, a flood plain analysis will be done and the residents relocated to higher grounds. And the Prime Minister reminded the MP that while he has been on the ground in various flood-affected communities, Figueira is yet to visit.
Guyana has been inundated with rainfalls and flooding over the past few weeks that has particularly affected communities in Regions Six, Seven, Eight, Nine and 10. Representatives of the CDC, Health Ministry, Regional Democratic Councils (RDCs) and Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) have over the past week been conducting flood assessments in several communities in Region Eight (Potaro-Siparuni).
An assessment conducted in Sub-District 2, Mahdia, found that several homes, farms, roads and mining equipment have been destroyed by floodwaters. Tumatumari Hill Foot to Two Miles is flooded, making it difficult for vehicles to traverse. Food prices have hiked due to shortages and access to drinking water is a major concern, with water harvesting being a challenge in hard-to-reach communities.
In addition, in El Paso/Tumatumari, five households with a total of 21 persons were independently evacuated to the homes of relatives who reside on higher ground. The team also assessed the flood impact at El Paso, which is home to approximately 35 families (160 persons).
Five households (16 persons) which are located on the water front were severely impacted by floodwater which rose to about 15 feet. This resulted in contamination of drinking water, damage to food, household items, boats and engines among other things. As a result, families were relocated to higher ground. Those who reside on the hills experienced flash floods, but the water has since receded.