PARTY’S OUTREACH TO REGION # 1--PRESS RELEASE Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Over the weekend, February 6th – 9th, 2009, the Leader of the People’s National Congress Reform, Mr. Robert H. O. Corbin, MP, led a team to Region # 1 where he held discussions and meetings with residents in the various communities.

Accompanying Mr. Corbin on these exercises were Dr. George Norton, MP and member of the Central Executive Committee, Mr. Desmond Fernandes, MP, Mr. Christopher Jones, Chairman (ag) of the Guyana Youth and Student Movement (GYSM) and Ms. Eileen Fernandes. This is a part of the Party’s outreach programme where the main objective of these exercises is to try and find out the problems affecting residents in these communities. Those areas visited were Mabaruma, Kamwatta, The Island – Aruau River, Hobodeia, Hotoquai, Barabina, Sacred Heart, Morawhanna and Bumbury. During the visits to each community, Dr. Norton who is an Ophthalmologist took the opportunity to examine senior citizens.

The main complaint of the residents in these communities was the lack of employment for youths and adults. Most of the young people cannot find jobs after graduating from High School. Political discrimination was the reason for some young people not being able to obtain employment. Residents also complained that they had not received their pension books, even though the Minister of Human Services, Ms. Priya Manickchand had said in Parliament that the books had been sent out to all the regions.

The lack of birth certificates was also a major concern for the residents of the communities in question. In the case of the residents at Hotoquai, they explained that money had been paid to the CEO of the region in order to obtain birth certificates but to date the residents have not been able to acquire these birth certificates, even though the relevant information had been sent through the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs and the regional authorities. The lack of birth certificates also affects the residents in terms of their ability to register their children for school and to register for ID cards. A related question is the need for school uniforms. When uniforms are not available the children are unable to attend school. The residents said that there is no indication that the Government intends to find a solution to the problems affecting them.

Agriculture, which the PPP considers to be so important to national development, is stagnating in the region. Quite a few of the residents do not have the means to bring their produce to the market at Kumaka and Mabaruma. In fact the residents responded to the Grow More Food campaign but discovered that there is no market for their peanuts and farming produce and they are force to sell to “hustlers” at the Mabaruma stelling at lower prices. In the past, they were able to sell their produce to the Guyana Marketing Corporation (GMC). This is no longer the case. Flooding has also taken a toll on the agricultural production in some of the communities in the region. For example the residents at The Island – Aruau, had their crops destroyed by the recent floods but no Minister or Government official has visited the area. Moreover, the residents have expressed their concern that there is no Agricultural officer attached to the community.

The spiraling cost of living has also hit these hinterland communities. The residents were dissatisfied over the fact that the prices of food stuff were rising and they were finding it difficult to cope with this situation. The quality of life in these communities was not only bedeviled by the rising cost of living but also in communities such as Barabina, Bumbury and Morawhanna, it is adversely affected by poor drainage and the lack of electricity.

Transportation was also a cause for complaint and concern. The community of The Island – Aruau, for example, is in dire need of an outboard engine as the one they originally possessed was reclaimed by the PPP because the residents of this area are considered to be supporters of the PNCR. The residents also indicated that transportation is needed for school children and in the case of Sacred Heart it is required to take patients to the hospital at Mabaruma. The roads in some of the villages are in very poor conditions and in the particular case of Barabina heavy rainfall has destroyed the main road. The residents claimed that they were informed by the REO, Mr. Ishwar Dass, that the sum of $4M was released to do the road but to date only a part of it has been completed. Money was also released to tar the road but so far this has not been done.

The issue of health also surfaced in the discussion with the PNCR Leader and his team. At Kamwatta, the residents explained that the new hospital needs to be completed at Mabaruma, since patients have to travel all the way to Georgetown for medical attention. Residents at Hobodeia pointed out that because of the lack of equipment only minor health issues could be dealt with. The health center in this community needs urgent repair. A radio set is also badly needed to communicate with other health officials in the region.

The PNCR team came away with the distinct impression that there had been inadequate levels of development in most of the communities. At Hobodeia, for example, the residents believe that the condition of their community has remained essentially the same since 1992. They believe that they can promote development by themselves if they are given a plan and the resources to do so.

People’s National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia,
Georgetown, Guyana
Wednesday, February 11, 2009