Vice Chairman of Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne), Dennis DeRoop is concerned about the poor performance of the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) in that region last year.
DeRoop’s comments come in the wake of a letter from the NDIA indicating that Cabinet was instructed to give more than $220 million of the region’s $370 million agriculture budget to the NDIA.
He was at the time speaking at a special Regional Democratic Council (RDC) meeting held on Wednesday to discuss moves by the Agriculture Ministry to have the NDIA take over the agriculture budget for that region.
The RDC has since written Communities Minister Ronald Bulkan expressing its disappointment.
During his presentation, DeRoop explained that the NDIA will not adequately be able to carry out the functions the Regional Administration, pointing out that last year it failed the people of Region Six.
“The Number 43/Joppa Outfall was not cleared once for last year. We (RDC) had to run the drainage pump at that location. We had to fuel it and run it for three months every day to solve the drainage problem in Black Bush Polder. Onto today the outfall cannot be excavated.”
He added that the NDIA had paid a contractor in full to excavate the outfall channel at Number 43 Village several months ago.
Meanwhile, also weighing in on the performance of the NDIA last year was Councillor Zamal Hussain who explained that it was the RDC that came to the rescue of rice farmers when the contractor had not cleared canals after being paid to by the NDIA.
“And if we look at some of the works that they are doing, they have failed. There are supposed to be nine excavators in this region managed directly by the NDIA, they do the maintenance and everything for it, it is only two working,” Hussain revealed.
He said too that there are thirteen mini-excavators in the region and only two are currently functioning. “If you have to get a gallon of oil you have to go to NDIA in Georgetown, and the machine is down for three weeks.”
Cabinet has taken a decision to have the $114 million from the capital budget transferred to the NDIA along with $108 million from the current budget.
DeRoop explained that apart from projects that are listed in the region’s agriculture budget, there are unforeseen emergency works which the regional Administration also have to oversee.
“Funds from the current program will be spent here. So if we don’t have any funds we will have to run around with a begging basket when these emergencies come up,” he said.
Husain, however, reiterated that the people of Region Six will suffer if the funds are handed over to the NDIA.
Since last year, Guyana Times highlighted proposed moves by Central Government to have the Region Six agricultural budget given over the NDIA. Minister Bulkan had said it was untrue.
During the National Budget debate Agriculture Minister, Noel Holder said there was no intention to do so. “If something is working well there is no need to change it,” Minister Holder told the National Assembly.