Georgetown, Guyana – (April 22, 2016) The Ministry of the Presidency, in collaboration with other state agencies, Ministries and organisations, today, took its ‘mobile government’ or the ‘Meet the Public’ Day forum to the people of East Berbice-Corentyne (Region Six).
The event, which took place on the lawns of State House, New Amsterdam, saw the attendance of about 400 residents, many of whom expressed satisfaction that their concerns had been heard and addressed.
The Government delegation, which was led by Prime Minister, Mr. Moses Nagamootoo, who is also currently performing the duties of President, included Minister of State, Mr. Joseph Harmon, Minister of Citizenship, Mr. Winston Felix, Head of the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission, Mr. Trevor Benn, representatives from the Ministry of Communities, Department of Housing, Guyana Water Incorporated (GWI), Guyana Power and Light (GPL) and the Guyana Police Force, among others.
In addressing the large gathering at the start of the Day’s activities, Minister Felix said that the Government was cognisant of its mantra; ‘A good life for all Guyanese’ and is therefore moving to ensure that the needs of all Guyanese are met so that the good life can prevail. To add to this, he announced that his Ministry will be working to decentralise services such as the issuance of passports and birth certificates. Residents greeted this announcement with loud applause, as they often leave the Ancient County as early as 02:00hrs to travel to Georgetown to access those services on a daily basis.
“These departments are here to accept from you, the issues and complaints you have and which are affecting your livelihood. Let me also inform you that the Ministry of Citizenship intends to extend its services to the Berbice region. We will decentralise, in a more profound way, passport and birth certificate services. You already have in New Amsterdam the issuance of passports, but we are not satisfied that that is sufficient. We recognise that this is an inconvenience and we will make this a reality,” the Minister said.
Minister Harmon in his brief remarks, told the residents that the President and the Government are cognisant that there are many issues which are to be addressed. To this end, the ‘Meet the Public’ Day has been designed to allow Guyanese from all walks of life to air their concerns and if possible, have them resolved on the spot.
“What we recognised is that there were so many people wanting to meet with the Ministers… and so we have decided to bring the office to you. We are not only taking complaints. We are making decisions just as we would take in our office. We believe that during the course of these exercises, important information is communicated… For Guyana to develop, all of our people have to be involved… We are about service to the people. That is why we are here. That is what we have been appointed to do,” he said.
Prime Minister Nagamootoo called the ‘Meet the Public Day’ the ‘greatest intervention’ in politics to date, in the addressing citizens’ concerns. He assured the Berbicians that the event was not a one-off activity, but will cater to all the regions and citizens so that the good life, which beckons, can be achieved.
“We now in Guyana, can proudly say that we have a ‘mobile government’, which is rolling out to meet the people in the various communities. We are servant leaders. We are your servants and it is, therefore, our duty to come to our masters. So this concept is a unique concept, which we want to develop. We want to change [the way things have been done previously] and the way to change this is to come to the people, identify with the people, let them bring their problems to us. We want to reinvent a role for our public servants that they are servants of the public and the people and their first responsibility is to the people… Do not leave here today feeling like someone had not listened to you,” the Prime Minister said.
In the meantime, Regional Chairman, Mr. David Armogan praised the initiative, noting that it is indeed commendable that the Ministers have seen the need to meet with and to address the people’s concerns.
“I am happy this morning that you have quite a number of Ministers here and besides the Ministers we have government officials, who have come to solve your problems that we have been encountering from time to time. We have a lot of problems; there are problems and there will continue to be problems but you have an opportunity here, this morning, to raise your issues and have them solved on the spot and what is not solved today can be solved in the near future. I want you to feel free to share your concerns and I want to thank the Ministers for coming out here,” he said.
One group of residents, which had travelled 65 miles from Siparuta to New Amsterdam to meet with the Minister of State, seemed satisfied with their meeting with a representative referring to is as a successful journey.
“We realised that we would have an opportunity to speak with the Minister and he gave us a good response and he said that he is willing to address most of our needs so I am thankful for that. Our issues were about the road from Orealla to Siparuta and help with sports and farming because farming is a livelihood for our residents. We have a playground that is not proper so we asked the Minister for the ground to be upgraded. We have more than one hundred young people and we want this to occupy their time… and the Minister is willing,” said Mr. Felix, a member of the group.
Mr. Vincent Griffith, a resident of New Amsterdam said, “I like what is happening right now because I have the opportunity to come and meet the people I need to see.”
Ms. Jean McAndrew, an elderly woman, who braved the weather to be at the event, said that she was particularly pleased that the Government has undertaken such an initiative, adding that “it is very nice and it shows that they have interest in straightening out things.”
Mr. Indranauth Persaud echoed similar sentiments, noting that he had several matters, which needed attention and they were dealt with on the spot.
“My issues have been cleared up and it was dealt with expeditiously and I am very, very happy for this that is taking place here today,” he said.
Mr. Nazam Bacchus, a resident of Angoy’s Avenue, also chimed in with praised for the ‘mobile government’, adding that it is his belief that the country has an administration, which genuinely cares about the welfare of its citizens.
“You know, every time I see the President, I think of him as a prophet because he puts things in place, which people need. This activity today shows that. This is a very good initiative and I hope that he keeps up the good job and continue to have the interest of the Guyanese people at heart,” he said.
In an interview after the event, Minister Harmon said that the event was “meaningful” since most of the concerns of the residents, which ranged from the psychiatric health, electricity and water woes, the National Insurance Scheme and to matters relating to the Ministries of Agriculture and Social Protection, were addressed and noted.
“The entire atmosphere was one where persons felt that the Government had actually come to the community to solve their problems on the ground. It is a different form of Government and we will replicate this in every part of this country. We have pledged to create a good life for all Guyanese and that is what we are about. As situations arose, we were able to resolve them and so this is really what we are about. Once we are here, we make decisions,” he said.
For those concerns that could not be immediately addressed, the Minister gave assurances that they will be forwarded to the relevant Ministries so that action can be taken.
Additionally, Prime Minister Nagamootoo said that concerns were raised with regard to the lack of qualification of small contractors for small projects in the Region. He said that many budding but small- scale contractors felt side-lined and thought they were being treated unfairly. He undertook to personally take the issue to the Cabinet level so that it can be addressed.
The ‘Public Day’ initiative will continue tomorrow in the upper Corentyne area.