ESSEQUIBO RICE FARMERS OWE $150M TO WUA.
A number of Essequibo Rice farmers reportedly owe in excess of $150M dollars in revenues to the Water Users Association and to the Neighbourhood Democratic Council, for the past 15 years.
This revelation was unearthed after research was conducted by AFC councillor, Mr. Archie Cordis.
Cordis noted that rates have to be paid between January 1 and March 31. Failing to do so, Cordis said, will result in farmers having to pay an interest of three percent.
Cordis added that prior to 2007; the local NDCs would collect the monies on behalf of the Drainage and Irrigation department for a 15 percent commission.
The AFC councillor is contending that although there is legislation obliging rice farmers to pay their dues to the Water Users Association, the law has not been forceful in prosecuting delinquent farmers. However the WUA can prosecute “delinquents” through the courts, under the Drainage and Irrigation Act 2004.
Cordis said that the NDCs are also culpable of owing millions of dollars to the Drainage and Irrigation department which also has the authority to place delinquent farmers before the courts.
“I feel that it’s not a case of affordability but should be made a priority and I feel each case should work on a one on one basis.”
Cordis is suggesting that they waive interest accumulated on the outstanding arrears and work out a payment plan with individual farmers so that they can bring the account to a required level.
The AFC councillor is contending that there must be a system where persons should be made to pay.