Make sea defence a priority- Walton-Desir; Indar says no need to “lecture us”

Last Updated on Tuesday, 24 January 2023, 8:01 by Denis Chabrol

Opposition A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) parliamentarian Amanza Walton-Desir on Monday said she was concerned that government was not spending sufficient on strengthening Guyana’s sea defence, but Public Works Minister Deodat Indar said there was no foreign funding for such works in the 2023 National Budget.

“It appears, as though Sir, if it is left up to this PPPC (People’s Progressive Party Civic) government, all of us are going to be washed away,” she told the National Assembly during debate on the 2023 National Budget debate.

She slammed government for spending billions of dollars on other types of infrastructure rather than on sea and river defence despite the adverse impact of climate change on this low-lying coastal state. She said the 2023 expenditures shows that government would be spending GY$4.9 billion compared to GY$5.5 billion last year

“Mr Speaker, the science is clear! It tells us that we are more prone now to tsunamis and tidal waves than we have ever been and this government is running around this country building roads, building bridges, building hotel rooms, building golf courses, building synthetic tracks and failing to do the most important thing, Mr Speaker, and that is to protect them from flooding, from the sea coming in on us,” Ms Walton-Desir said.

Responding to her, Public Works Minister Indar sought to chastise that opposition lawmaker, saying that she has “absolutely no idea” about sea defence. He said since the PPPC returned to office in August 2020, billions of dollars have been spent on river and sea defence. “I want to say that the entire coastland- all the islands…everywhere, we are doing sea defence work so we don’t need her to come here and lecture us about sea defence; she is out of her league,” he said.

Mr Indar explained that the local budgetary allocation for sea and river defence has been increased for 2023. “It is the foreign element that went down,” he said.