Seven months have passed since the year began but to date, $3.4 billion that was approved for the Region One (Barima-Waini) Regional Administration during budgetary allocations in December 2018 remains untouched.Regional ChairmanBrentnol AshleyAccording to Regional Chairman, Brentnol Ashley major developmental works and much-needed projects that should have already been halfway completed for 2019 have not commenced.“Relating to budget implementation, it is considered in the virgin stage, meaning spending has not started as yet. We know that some projects were awarded but the concern is that the projects have not started in order for contractors to part being paid so it will reflect that our budget is still unspent to date. This is the seventh month we are in, about to begin the eight month,” Ashley told this publication.He explained that the standstill in Region One and the delaying of crucial projects is by no means the fault of the Regional Democratic Council (RDC) but rather the blame should be placed solely on the shoulders of the region’s Regional Executive Officer (REO), Randolph Storm.“We have not had a sitting of the RDC since April. The REO behaves as though as if he is not answerable to the RDC or the Councillors of the RDC. This has been causing problems as it relates to the administration of the region, causing problems to the implementation of the regional budget in certain aspects,” the Chairman lamented.HypocriticalAccording to Ashley, although there are different tiers in the governance of a country, it appears as though it is only the Central Government that is “truly empowered” to execute what it deems as fit and necessary.“The Government speaks in a hypocritical manner about respecting and empowering the tiers…as it relates to the regional level, the RDCs are being trampled upon and its authority is being taken lightly, some REOs are carrying out political directives as against carrying out the decisions that are made by the RDC. To date, no decision that was made by the RDC since February or April have been implemented by the REO of Region One,” the Chairman said.He lamented that the RDC was forced to postpone its statutory meeting that was scheduled to have been held last month and, therefore, members are not being kept abreast of what is truly occurring in Region One.“It was postponed owing to the fact that the elected Councillors were not informed in a timely manner. Also, the official minutes were not prepared for the Councillors to have it to use as a tool to monitor and to evaluate what is being done by the RDC. The RDC is being stymied from carrying out its constitutional responsibility of monitoring and ensuring that value is given for the money that is being spent.”It was also noted that at the end of this year, if the monies from 2018’s budgetary allocation have not been utilised then they would be returned to the national treasury and many of these projects would have to be “rolled over”.Some of these projects are for the construction of health facilities, enclosure of buildings, gridding and shaping of roads, rehabilitation to health and education facilities, purchasing of vehicles and ATVs (All Terrain Vehicles) etc.On December 12, 2018, under the Education Capital Programme for 2019, the sum of $151,200 million was approved for rehabilitative work to the Port Kaituma Primary and Secondary schools and extension of White-Water Nursery School. The sum also catered for the construction of sanitary blocks at Waramuri, Port Kaituma and St John’s Primary Schools and the construction and enclosure of living quarters at Unity Square and Manawarin.Some $21.9 million was to be spent on school furniture and equipment including equipment for Smart classrooms, desks, benches, cupboards, tables, chairs, racks, fire extinguishers, musical and sports equipment at several schools in the region.$15.7 million was also allocated for transportation. The money caters for boats and outboard engines at Moruca, Barama, Pawaikuru, and St Nicholas, Waramuri and Santa Cruz Primary and Santa Rosa Secondary Schools among others.In the area of health, $101.1 million was allocated for the completion of an X-ray room at Pakera District Hospital and staff quarters at Mabaruma; construction of a maternity waiting home at Santa Rosa; health training complex at Mabaruma; health post at Parakese and incinerator at Kwebana; enclosure of living quarters and upgrading of central duct system at Mabaruma Regional Hospital and the provision for hot water baths.
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