Georgetown, Guyana – (February 4, 2016) In keeping with their campaign promise to take the Government to the people, Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo, Minister of State, Mr. Joseph Harmon and other senior government functionaries, today, participated in the second ‘Public Day’ forum, at Perth Village, Essequibo Coast.
Hundreds of residents from Perth and other nearby villages braved the hot sun and gathered at Perth Park to have the challenges affecting their livelihoods and communities addressed. A large team of Government officials, including Minister of Citizenship, Mr. Winston Felix; wife of the Prime Minister, Mrs. Sita Nagamootoo; Legal Advisor in the Ministry of the Presidency, Mrs. Geeta Chandan-Edmond; Inspector, Ms. Michelle Davis; Senior Superintendent, Mr. Dale Alves and supporting officers from the Ministry of Agriculture, the National Insurance Scheme, the Central Immigration Authority, the General Registrar’s Office, the Public Service Ministry, Civil Defence Commission and the Ministry of Citizenship were on location to listen, register and address matters affecting residents.
Before engaging them individually, Minister Harmon encouraged the residents to capitalise on the opportunity to air their concerns with officials from the various offices. The Prime Minister reminded the gathering that it is because of their votes that the new government is in office and they were there to serve.
Minister of State, Mr. Joseph Harmon makes his remarks at the Public Day forum.
“It is in that vein that we are making these outreaches, we have been elected by the people and we are responsible only to the people. We have to listen with your ears, we have to see with your eyes, we have to speak with your tongue because you are the reason we are here,” Prime Minister Nagamootoo said.
It is against this backdrop, he added, that the Government has created a policy of open governance.
“We are not in a Boardroom making decisions that will affect your lives without coming to you, the people, to hear your concerns,” the Prime Minister said. “There is something called policies, when you make policy the public servants are required to carry out that policy to the letter and if the policy is wrong then we can hurt people who elected the government to govern in their interest.”
The team from the General Registrar’s Office as they engage residents on matters affecting them.
These outreaches, therefore, are geared specifically at creating a forum where residents are involved in creating policies that will empower their respective communities, he added. Prime Minister Nagamootoo and Minister Harmon then took the time to sit and talk with residents, some of whom have been enduring challenges dating back to 50 years.
Later, when the Ministry of the Presidency engaged with some of the residents who came to have their voices heard, many were in high in praise of the Government’s efforts. Several persons complained about challenges related to land allocation, poor drainage and irrigation for farm lands, among other issues.
Merlyn Brown, a resident of Maria’s Delight who has not been able to settle a land issue for more than five years, said she is now confident that some attempts will be made to resolve the matter. “I’m so glad for this initiative here and I’m glad if they can do it more often, so that people who are not fortunate financially can get their issues solved,” Ms. Brown said, shortly after meeting with the Minister of State.
Another resident, Mr. Karran Chand also commended the Government for the initiative, pointing to the large turnout which, he says, speaks volumes about how Essequibians have welcomed this move. Mr. Chand said forums like these are clear indicators that the Government of the day is ready and willing to work with people at the grass-roots level to remedy problems.
Similar sentiments were expressed by other residents who were able to garner assistance related to the issuance of birth certificates, passports and other matters related to benefits from the National Insurance Scheme.
Today’s exercise is the second in a series planned by the new administration to take the Government to the people. The exercise was deemed a success by both the Prime Minister and the Minister of State, who spoke with the media at the end of the event.
This woman gestures as she makes her point to Senior Superintendent Dale Alves and Inspector Michelle Davis, who listen attentively.
Minister Harmon said while some matters were solved at the forum, there are some that will require follow-up interventions. Most of the latter matters are obstacles hindering rice farmers, the allocation of lands in the region and the quality of services provided by public servants. The Minister was also disturbed that some of the concerns farmers raised were brought on by some persons who are serving in public offices.
“There are several complaints made about the manner in which the officials in the Neighbourhood Democratic Councils and the Regional Democratic Councils are dealing with issues related to the public,” Minister Harmon said. These officials, some of whom attended the Public Day forum, were reminded that they were appointed to office to serve the public and should do so in a manner that upholds the integrity of those offices.