Last Updated on Sunday, 26 March 2023, 14:04 by Denis Chabrol
Punctuated by references to improve infrastructure, social sector, employment, business support, housing and farming lands ownership, a high-level ministerial team on Saturday sought to assure residents of the predominantly Afro-Guyanese East Coast Demerara village of Victoria that government was not discriminating against them and that they should ignore those making such claims.
Prime Minister Mark Phillips, who led a 11-member ministerial delegation, took umbrage to someone who responded t0 the invitation on Social Media by saying “Victoria, be on the lookout; the racists are coming to pretend that they care for you.” He said the Irfaan Ali-led administration has been delivering to communities. He announced that initially five roads in Victoria would be rehabilitated and the list would be extended. “All Guyana, things are happening
No reference was made to the weeks-old controversial call by the Working People’s Alliance (WPA) for the police and defence forces to become tools of repression should mass-based street protests against against alleged racial discrimination by the Indo-Guyanese backed People’s Progressive Party-led administration.
Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce, Oneidge Walrond told the more than 300 persons who attended the government outreach at the Victoria Community Centre Ground, added that, “Negativities and people bringing up roadblocks as to why you should not access government programmes because of all kinds of biases is not helping you. We want to make sure that you are able and we are all able, as Guyanese, to enjoy the bounty that is coming to Guyana and and the development and the growth.”
Ms Walrond Victorians assistance to craft business proposals, apply for grants or bank loans so that they “can withstand the rigour of bank scrutiny”, marketing of products at expos. At the same, time she cautioned potential beneficiaries that they would have to spend monies wisely because “the resources are limited.”
Attorney General Anil Nandlall urged the gathering to consider what government critics had been telling them that would lead to their improvement. He referred to efforts that were being made to regularise the ownership of farmlands at Victoria as means of returning villagers back to agriculture as a major revenue earner. “A lot of people walking this country talking about empowerment and empowerment. What have they done for you to empower you? We are offering you empowerment in a real way, putting you and connecting you to the lands of this c0untry so that you can become productive and make those lands productive and you can be in a position to transmit that wealth to generations to come of yours,” he said. He appealed for patience in land regularisation which would include the digging of canals, land surveying, and the granting of land titles.
Junior Minister of Housing and Water, Susan Rodrigues said the first 2,000 of the 10,000 house lots that have been earmarked for 2023 would be allocated on the East Coast Demerara later this month. She said government was delivering on its promises without racial or political discrimination. “The people of the East Coast Demerara have not been forgotten, you were never forgotten.” “We have all of these opportunities available. We are ensuring that our programmes are delivered in an equitable way where men, women, Afro-Guyanese, Indo-Guyanese, PPP supporters, PNC supporters- whoever you are, you are Guyanese first and we are ensuring that the plans and the programmes that we that you can all benefit from it,” she said. Ms Rodrigues said the Ministry of Housing and Water would be going to the East Coast Demerara to begin its allocations for 2023. She said all house lot applicants on the East Coast Demerara would receive lands this year “and you can hold me to that.” The Housing and Water Minister said so far government has allocated a total of 20,800 house lots out of a target of 50,000. Of those handed out, she said 5,900 have been allocated on the East Coast Demerara.
Minister of Culture Youth and Sport, Charles Ramson urged Victorians to ignore those who were discouraging them from taking advantage of opportunities such as house lots, schools, jobs, hospitals, land titles, training and education, drainage and agriculture across Guyana as “they will transform into tangible improvement into your individual and collective life.” “When people are going to come and tell you about how you are going to benefit and what they will do and what the government isn’t doing, very few of them will come and tell you about the house-lots, the projects…Very few of them will tell you that it is important to get connected to the financial system,, very few of them will ever help you to get connection to the financial system,” he said.
Mr Ramson singled out the land regularisation system as a pathway to wealth creation to build assets in their names by obtaining loans for properties and businesses.
Other projects and programmes referred to include the creation of a training centre on the East Coast Demerara to qualify already skilled and experienced tradesmen for the oil and gas sector. Minister of Labour Joseph Hamilton encouraged women to apply for training in areas such as heavy duty machinery operation masonry and electrical installation as there are lucrative job opportunities.
Many residents from Victoria and neighbouring villages asked government to repair several other drainage facilities and increase food production.