Regional administrations must break down barriers of governance – President Ali

…announces establishment of rapid response technical teams

President Irfaan Ali has emphasised the importance of forging better cooperation between citizens and the Government, calling on the regional administrations across the country to play their part in breaking down the barriers that separate the two.
He made his pronouncement on Friday during an outreach in Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne), where he met individually with a number of citizens and heard their concerns at the Regional Democratic Council (RDC) office in New Amsterdam.

President Irfaan Ali meeting with residents of Berbice during an outreach which addressed numerous issues faced by residents

The issues raised ranged from access to electricity, water, land allocation concerns and drainage issues. The President was accompanied by officials from the Guyana Power and Light (GPL), National Insurance Scheme (NIS), National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA), Lands and Surveys, the Ministry of Health and the Guyana Police Force among others, during the outreach.
According to President Ali, the regional administrations, particularly in Berbice, have the capacity at the Local Government level to deal with the issues that were raised.
“We have a lot of expertise at the regional level. What we have to do is to have more coordination and break down the barriers of governance,” he posited.
The Head of State announced during the outreach that a rapid response technical team will be set up in all 10 administration regions across Guyana to cater to the needs of the residents.
“In every single region, we’ll be creating a rapid response team. This will comprise of representation from the different agencies, chaired by the Regional Chairman. This team will be responsible for the following up of issues at the community level and will ensure that these issues are resolved,” Ali said.
He further urged the officials and representatives from the various Ministries and State agencies that were at the outreach to guarantee impartiality and fairness when dealing with the concerns raised.
“You have to respect the people and the issues which are raised…You are not dealing with personalities; you are dealing with issues,” he asserted.
The President explained to the gathering that similar outreach exercises will also be conducted in other parts of the country.
“Today we are not here to look at issues for two or three weeks, we are here to resolve problems. For the ordinary people on the ground, there will be a greater connection between the people and the Government and greater connection between the agencies and the people. There will be a better understanding of concerns and problems that the people are facing on the ground,” he stressed.
After meeting with citizens, the Head of State told reporters that if there is a less bureaucratic mode of communication from the level of the regional administration, and agencies such as the NDIA, the Lands and Surveys Commission, NIS, and Central Housing and Planning Authority then many of the issues can be resolved.
“But from what you hear, it is the long delays in addressing some of these issues. It is also a communications problem… So, there is a great need for public awareness about what is happening in the various agencies,” he said.
According to President Ali, among the issues raised, the most alarming is the fact that many persons have been stripped of their ownership of lands.
In one instance, Chandramattie Drepaul, who has had a land issued since President Ali was the Minister of Housing, explained that the land that she had bought was used to build a school by the State. She had requested that the money she paid be returned to her. However, since then, she has not been refunded.
Though she was asked by Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA) CEO Sherwyn Greaves at the outreach if she wanted to be relocated, Drepaul refused and insisted that her money be returned.
President Ali listened closely to the woman and instructed that the CH&PA deal with the issue.
Also, during the outreach, several groups from the four Polders in Black Bush, Corentyne, voiced their concerns for more structured residential areas, which are away from the farming communities.
This issue has been handed over to the Lands and Surveys Commission.
Meanwhile, 63-year-old Wendy Adams, who has been without electricity for a number of years, was one of the first persons that were able to sit before the Head of State in the RDC Boardroom and air her concerns.
“I was so happy and glad that I will be getting through after so many years without current. I have a house and everything and finished it couple years ago, but I have been without light for decades. Right now, I am so happy that I was able to speak to President Ali in person. I couldn’t sleep last night because I was so anxious and I even woke up this morning excited,” the woman exclaimed.
She said that this is the first time that she was able to speak to someone in authority concerning her woes, after being given the “royal runaround” for years.
“I can’t explain to you how much I am happy right now. Never in my life have I ever been able to do that. I am just so glad,” the woman said while praising President Ali for organising the outreach, which she dubbed as “one of a kind.”
Nevertheless, Ali said that his Administration has not completed the structural composition of Government at both the national and regional levels.
He also indicated that while Government is currently implementing the 2020 Emergency Budget, they are also working simultaneously on the 2021 Budget, programming resources for the upcoming fiscal year.
Meanwhile, with the distribution of the $25,000 COVID-19 Relief Grant to households currently ongoing in the East Berbice-Corentyne region, President Ali also addressed concerns raised with this programme.
While the grant is being distributed per household, a “pink slip” is given out in cases where there is more than one family residing at an address. That slip will allow for those families that did not get the grant to receive their $25,000 grant after a verification process.
“So, after that verification process, then we will finalise the list [of] those persons [who] will also receive the grant,” the President explained. (G4)