-Housing Ministry eyes more solar wells for hinterland
Housing developments, the court system and the labour sector may see an increase in transformative programmes over the next five years, according to a number of newly sworn-in Ministers.
Speaking to Kaieteur News on Monday shortly after being sworn in by President Donald Ramotar at State House, new Minister of Labour Dr. Nanda Kishore Gopaul made it clear that he was targeting areas within the sugar and bauxite to improve the lots of workers.
“Obviously, I am all ready to start working feverishly to ensure all areas of concerns are addressed at the places of work. Be it in the sugar and bauxite industries, workers have to feel a sense of security and belonging.”
Over recent years, the Guyana Sugar Corporation, which up to recently was chaired by Gopaul, has been complaining of an unacceptable high number of strikes and other forms of industrial unrest.
Faced with GuySuCo’s growing intolerance of the actions and a reducing work force, the new Minister will have his work cut out for him.
Dr. Gopaul, whose background is in the trade unions, was a senior official in the National Association of Agricultural, Commercial and Industrial Employees (NAACIE). He was the former Permanent Secretary in the Office of the President and now replaces Manzoor Nadir.
He also acknowledged that issues involving bauxite workers in Aroaima, Region Ten, at the Rusal mines will have to attract attention from his Ministry.
“But obviously, I will have to be briefed on the issues.
In late 2009, Rusal dismissed over 50 workers, many of them union representatives, after industrial actions for better working conditions. The issue had received widespread local and international condemnation. The Russian-owned company even moved to end the labour agreement with the workers’ union.
The failure to address this particular issue in the company, which is partly owned by the Guyana Government, has been seen as one of the main reasons for the bad showing at Linden for the ruling People’s Progressive Party/Civic during the November 28 national polls.
Meanwhile, new Minister of Legal Affairs and Attorney General, Mohabir Anil Nandlall, admitted complains of the sloth in cases being heard.
“My first priority, obviously, will be to get a status update on the programmes. I have some ideas and these will have to be taken to Cabinet for approval.”
Nandlall, a former state prosecutor and defence attorney, pointed out that Guyana does have the Justice Improvement Programme which targets a number of key issues. These include improvement to the offices of the Director of Public Prosecution, compiling of law reports and the record-keeping system.
“All these have to be done. We have to continue to advance the legal system and the administration of justice so that at the end of the day, the people of Guyana can be assured of a better system.”
It is no secret that cases have taken an inordinate length of time to be heard with reports of records mysteriously disappearing and of overworked magistrates and judges.
Irfaan Ali has been returned as the Minister of Housing and Water.
“We have a comprehensive programme in place. We will step it up with the introduction of an educational department in the Ministry. Homeowners will be able to access advice on construction standards, quality of materials and a host of other services that will address some of the more immediate challenges that face them.”
The Ministry will also be focusing on programmes on community development and planning.
“Getting more people involved in community development and planning is critical to the whole process of housing in Guyana and would advance the monitoring and verification mechanisms. That is the only way we can build sustainable communities.”
In recent years, Government has brought down interest rates by allowing banks certain incentives.
“Obviously, we would want to continue making it easier for teachers, nurses and other professionals to access lower interest rates and we would be developing more programmes working with banks and other professional groups to this end.”
In the area of water management, the Minister was upbeat that more programmes to bring water to the hinterland areas, using solar and other means for power, will continue.
“We do have a programme and we will continue to adjust them as we go along.”
New Minister of Local Government and Regional Development, Ganga Persaud, said that there is a current work programme in place.
“The party has a manifesto and addresses issues in local and regional development. We will be working closely with that plan to roll out our programmes.
With former Region Two Chairman, Alli Baksh, now the Junior Minister of Agriculture, the government will have to find a replacement for him.
On Monday, 20 Ministers of the Cabinet under President Donald Ramotar was sworn in. There was no one for Tourism, Trade and Commerce and it is unclear whether there will be a Minister appointed to this post which was held by Manniram Prashad. (Leonard Gildarie)
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