The local government administration of Region Six is calling for the de facto administration to seriously consider a number of initiatives, including deferring the utility bills for citizens, to help deal with the economic fallout of COVID-19.
Region Six is the East Berbice area that stretches from New Amsterdam to Crabwood Creek, and is known especially for its agricultural produce. Speaking on Kaieteur Radio yesterday on Elections/COVID-19 Watch, Regional Chairman, David Armogan, said that there are welcome rains with rice farmers now venturing into their crop after a good first one.
However, there is bad news. He said that the spending power is not there in Berbice as there is a high level of unemployment, worsened by the closure of two sugar estates and now COVID-19. There is a high level of dumping.
The situation from COVID-19 has seen a clamping down of the Berbice markets, after the one case and death was recorded. Very shortly, persons will be screened before entering the municipal markets for high temperature and other signs.
According to Armogan, with the Corentyne River locked down and the authorities from Suriname controlling the waters of that border river, farmers from remote
communities like Orealla have been allowed access to the river to bring out their produce. Armogan confirmed reports of produce being dumped because of no markets.
Asked about official spending, he said that his administration has been operating on a tight 1/12 budget in light of the political situation, meaning the region does not even have a capital budget for emergency works, a deeply worrying situation.
“If any emergency,” he told Kaieteur Radio, “I don’t know what will happen as there is no money for emergency purposes. There is no capital budget.” He pointed to the much-used Black Bush Road which is potholed now.
“We are still lucky in Berbice but resources stretched to limit,” Armogan said.
He said that people are not working with about 50 percent of the citizens of Region Six barely surviving.
According to the official, many small businesses will go under unless some assistance is given. He recommended immediate deferrals of the utility bills for a few months, a possible stipend and maybe monthly distribution of hampers.
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