$4.7B approved for Region 2 in 2018

first_img– but not before Opposition scrutinyA total sum of $4.7 billion was approved for Region Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam) following an examination of the expenditure for the region in the Committee of Supply in the National Assembly on Wednesday.Current and capital expenditures were approved for regional administration and finance ($255.3 million); agriculture ($395.9 million); infrastructure ($197.4 million);Opposition MP, Colin Croaleducation delivery ($2.1 billion); and health services ($1 billion).However, Opposition Member of Parliament (MP) Colin Croal highlighted a massive increase in security services from $28.8 million to $37.7 million, under the 2018 Budget for Region Two.Communities Minister Ronald Bulkan conceded that the increase was substantial but explained that it was due to an additional security at the State House annex in the region.In addition to that, it also caters for additional security at the residence of the Regional Executive Officer (REO) who has reportedly been in constant fights with elected regional officials.Minister Bulkan also told the Committee of Supply that several schools will now have full-time security services and that the newly contracted security firm offers an increased hourly rate of $350.The Minister emphasised that there is an increased need for security at regional facilities throughout the region, which is the main reason for the budgetary allocation in 2018.Opposition MP Cornell Damon also drilled the Minister on the procurement process used to hire a company to assist with the repairs of vehicles belonging to the region.Bulkan admitted that selective tendering was used to outsource a company to undertake this duty and the Opposition MP requested that the documents – as it relates to this transaction – be provided.Damon also zeroed in on the increases in clerical and office support staff, from 57 to 66; technical and craft skilled, from 304 to 321; as well as semi-skilled and unskilled staffers, from 204 to 265.Where there was a decrease in contract staff and an increase in the monies allocated, Bulkan explained that the increase was to cater for annualisation of salary increases.Meanwhile, Opposition MP Gail Teixeira also questioned Government’s spending. She pointed out that $15.8 million was spent on maintenance of buildings, when only $4.1 million was budgeted.The Opposition Chief Whip was quick to ask where the money came from. Bulkan responded by saying that t was taken from sums budgeted for education delivery, which Teixeira noted was highly irregular.Bulkan was again pressed to answer several pertinent questions in relation to medical supplies within the region, but this time by Opposition MP, Dr Vishwa Mahadeo, a former regional health official.Dr Mahadeo claimed that during visits to the region, there were always complaints about the shortage of essential drugs. He asked Bulkan whether the $186.1 million budgeted for drugs and medical supplies was spent.The Minister stated that $17 million is unspent. He told the Opposition MP that a reconciliation process is currently ongoing. A truck will be purchased by the region to uplift and transport drugs and medical supplies.Concerns were also raised about fuel being sourced for the support of generators which will provide standby electricity services to healthcare facilities, particularly at the Oscar Joseph and Suddie hospitals.The House was also told that $40 million will be expended for drainage and irrigation, construction and rehabilitation throughout the region.last_img read more