President Dr Irfaan Ali has announced transformational projects for the Kato community in Region Eight (Potaro-Siparuni).
The Head of State visited the mountain community on Tuesday to assess the needs of its residents and, after consultation, announced that several life changing projects had been identified.
The Head of State, who had asked members of the community to highlight their needs, distributed 100 hampers and toys for them and their children.
Feedback from residents included: the need for better education, infrastructure works, an upgraded water system, support in agricultural development, and improved leisure and sporting activities.
The President’s visit follows a commitment he made to the community some eight months ago while pursuing the campaign, when he assured them he would return.
“It gives me great honor and privilege and I’m happy to be back here in this community with you. A few months ago, I was here seeking your trust and seeking your confidence to elect myself President and chief servant for you and in electing the PPP / C to his post. I must sincerely thank you for the tremendous trust and confidence you placed in us when you cast that sacred vote. ”
COMMUNITY DELIVERY SUPPORT
In the first of several announcements, the President revealed the formation of a special team to oversee the implementation of the priority projects identified by the residents.
The team, he said, will include the Chief of Staff of the Guyana Defense Force (GDF), Brigadier Godfrey Bess, National Security Adviser, Captain Gerry Gouveia and other members of the GDF.
“I’m going to form a special team for us to move forward because we’re building community by community with the resources at our disposal. And we have our Army with great engineers, great leaders, great planners. So, we are bringing them together to serve you better, to work with you to listen to your priorities … So for this reason they are here, so they can listen to you more you. Listen to the development needs and aspirations of the Kato people. ”
The President emphasized that the development should reflect residents’ priorities, not what people are telling them about.
“It must reflect your priorities, what you think is important and how you see these things affecting your family life, your children, the young people and the community.”
The Head of State reminded residents of the numerous Government interventions despite COVID-19; these include investments in the various regions through the regional budgets as well as having systems in place to strengthen the education and health systems in communities.
“One of the major effects of COVID that everyone is concerned about is the number of children we have lost in the education system … That’s why we started a multi-faceted approach to tackling the issue of education during the this COVID era. “
On this note the President commended the parents and teachers for their efforts in getting the children of the hinterland community engaged despite the challenges.
He reminded them of the priority areas raised during his last visit to Kato including, among other issues, the dormitory expansion at the high school. He also assured the residents that their children will soon improve access to education at all levels.
The President added that the community will benefit from its own ICT hub, so that residents will have access to “good internet facilities” that will allow them to access many opportunities.
He also announced the reintroduction of the One Laptop for Families initiative next year, which will help the young people access easily accessible information for children on the coast.
In addition, several other initiatives have been announced that will directly benefit young people in the community. These included improved leisure facilities to help develop sports skills and access to scholarships through the 20,000 scholarship program due to start in 2021.
“All communities will have the opportunity to get the best out of this program so that they can pursue higher education.”
ACCESS TO ENERGY
Kato, like all other communities, will also benefit from access to fixed electricity.
“Part of our energy plan for Guyana is to ensure that all communities have access to energy. Whether it’s small hydros, whether it’s coastal solar … This is important for the kids. It is important in the development of the communities themselves. These are essential to the development of community life. ”
DIRECT INVESTMENTS IN COMMUNITIES
The Head of State explained that the Government had been working on reprioritising its resources to meet families who were thinking directly about COVID-19 cash grants, children’s cash grants and the uniform allowance for schoolchildren.
“As we speak, we are distributing the uniform allowance for schoolchildren… and that will be increased next year to $ 15,000 per child. So, with the cash grant and the uniform allowance, each child will receive $ 30,000. Every child in this country will receive $ 30,000. These are the direct investments we make. “
In addition, the president announced a comprehensive plan to address the well-being of all residents including teens, teachers, healthcare workers among others.
MEDICAL SUPPLIES SHORTAGE
The President also highlighted the shortage of medical supplies in several communities over the past five years. He said that to combat this, he said there will be logistical support to ensure that communities and health centers are fully equipped, not only with human resources but also with vital medical supplies to support their health needs.
He added that the Government will work with the community to integrate agriculture with the region’s food needs, not only in the dorms and school but in regional hospitals and other government facilities in an effort to create employment and opportunities for local farmers.
President Ali said he intends to work with the various subject ministers, the regional authority, and other agencies including the army to see the priority projects realized.
Following the meeting, the Head of State and members of his delegation, including Gouveia, Brigadier Bess and other officers, interacted with residents who expressed their appreciation for the timely intervention.