Oct 31, 2015 News
By Jarryl Bryan
As Bartica prepares for its township status, Region Seven Democratic Council (RDC) Chairman, Gordon Bradford, has laid out his expectations for improving the way of life in Bartica.
Bradford said that among the changes he expects is the ways and means of revenue collection, a Miss Bartica Township pageant and more investments from entrepreneurs.
The Official Gazette (Extraordinary) published on October 21, 2015, identified the three new towns as Bartica, Region Seven; Mabaruma, Region One; and Lethem, Region Nine. The towns, in keeping with regulations will also have their own Mayors, Deputy Mayors, and Town Councillors.
Bartica, a community located up the Essequibo River, has been growing in recent years as a result of a gold rush to the hinterlands. It has a thriving waterfront, power and police stations, schools and nightlife. Therefore, the attraction of Bartica as a tourist stopover has long been touted. It is one of the main gateways also to hinterland communities.
“One of the things that we will be proposing is that a percentage of royalties collected, be it from mining or logging, should go to the development of the township (proposal),” Bradford explained.
“All of our revenue and royalties go to (Central Government) and then at the Regional level we budget and it is presented to the various Ministries in Central Government.”
“At present it’s only rates, taxes and market fees that are collected,” Bradford said. “But we hope to extend further than that. If there is mining or any economic activity based in an Indigenous community a percentage (of returns from resources) is given to the community and then GGMC also.”
“We are looking for more revenue. More than half the gold that goes to the Guyana Gold Board is from this Region,” Bradford said. “So if we can get, maybe a two or three percent of (gold royalty) it will go a far way to helping to push development.”
Bradford added that the building to house the Bartica Gold Board has already been constructed. It is expected to be functional by year end. The Chairman also noted that as these new developments come on stream, more representations and suggestions to the Central Government would be made.
He also made it clear that tourism would take centre stage, with many Barticians expected to come home in their numbers. Bradford lauded the waterfront investment by miner Chunilall Babolall – a palatial resort. He called on other business-minded individuals to invest in Bartica.
“Definitely we will see Bartica on the move. We also hope to have a Miss Bartica township pageant, separate from the Bartica regatta.”
The three new towns will be added to six others across the country – Corriverton, Rose Hall and New Amsterdam in Berbice; Georgetown; Linden, Region Ten; and Anna Regina, Essequibo Coast.
The establishment of the new townships has been top of the agenda for the David Granger administration since it took office back in May after winning the General and Regional Elections.
As part of the plans, the new Government wants to hold Local Government Elections in the first half of next year, giving more autonomy to the community leaders.
Already, the administration has merged the Ministry of Housing and Water with the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development to form the Ministry of Communities.
Earlier this week, Minister Ronald Bulkan, while addressing a capacity building workshop for Municipalities and Neighborhood Democratic Councils (NDCs), disclosed that focus will not only be placed on providing institutional strengthening, but also on ensuring that the Councils’ revenue bases are sufficient to allow for their financial independence and their general autonomy in the management of their affairs.
Bulkan had noted that attention to the Councils’ financial status is a critical component in the administration’s strategic agenda of decentralizing democratic engagement.
According to the recent statement from the Government, it had been noted that the Ministry of Communities will be looking more closely at the question as to “where do our Councils get their revenues from, to enable them to have the capacity to be equipped, to effectively discharge their responsibilities.”
It is understood that focus will therefore be placed on the major sources of revenue for the Councils – the proceeds that are collected from rates and that are payable by property owners within their jurisdiction. Steps are on stream to bring this in line with the 21st century.
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