Nov 28, 2020 Letters
Kindly permit me to express my total disgust with the way in which the COVID-19 relief fund was disbursed in Region two.
During the course of the last few weeks, I have been bombarded by hundreds of residents via telephone calls, text messages and every conceivable means of communication, expressing their dissatisfaction with the heartless behavior of government representatives and political hacks carrying out the activity.
Mr. Editor, it is quite evident that the installed government had no proper plan in place and it was left either deliberately or unintentionally to the PPP/C affiliates to determine who should get the relief and who should not. That was obviously a recipe for discrimination and mismanagement of taxpayers’ dollars, which by the way, was approved by both the Government and Opposition. However, the Government modus operandi led some sections of the public to believe that the $25,000 was a gift from the PPP/C since the activity began with known party activists visiting communities and recording names. The activity quickly turned into a disaster as the actual distribution began.
One morning I was called by a pregnant mother from Karawab who has five children. She broke down in tears as she relayed the horrific story of PPP/C activists along with police carrying big guns returning to her home and demanding that she returned the $25,000 she signed for.
This prompted me to visit several communities in the Upper Pomeroon area: Siriki, Kabakaburi, St. Monica and Karawab. In each community there were overwhelming complaints of discrimination by the PPP/C activists who dictated that residents who flew the APNU/AFC flags during the 2020 general and regional election should not be given the relief.
I met with dozens of residents from Karawab who claimed that the COVID-19 relief team returned to their homes and demanded that they returned the money but did not cancel the receipt that they signed. Common sense would tell you in whose pockets those monies went.
One resident cried as she explained that she was very poor and had already spent the money on groceries to provide for her children when the party hacks returned for it.
She was so embarrassed that she had to beg her sister to lend her the money so that she could have returned it. I spoke with the family of a frontline nurse of Amerindian heritage, attached to the Charity Hospital, who at the time was hospitalized with COVID-19. Yet the government refused to give her relatives the $25,000. It was totally heartbreaking to hear what our indigenous people had to endure at the hands of this installed illegitimate government.
The distribution of the COVID-19 relief on the coastal areas was no different.
Each distribution team had a PPP/C activist assigned, who in my view caused the distribution to be done in a haphazard, disorganized and discriminatory manner.
In certain communities, disbursement of the $25,000 was done at a single home where all who had ID cards were allowed to sign up and receive the cash. It didn’t matter if you resided in the community, whether you were the head of a household or if others in your household had already received the relief. As long as you came with an ID card, you qualify.
In other communities, a highly discriminatory approach was taken; especially at homes perceived to be APNU/AFC supporters. There are hundreds of cases where different families live in the same yard space but in different homes; they were denied. There are numerous cases where relatives live in different homes and in different yard spaces but were denied based on political preferences.
I spoke with a young Amerindian woman living with her child in her own home and in her own yard space for over four years but was denied on the basis of her mother-in-law receiving the grant at her own separate residence (check my Facebook page for video evidence).
Her mother-in-law happened to be an Afro Guyanese and was obviously perceived to be an APNU/AFC supporter. This is the depth of dirty politics that the current government has descended to. Then there were persons who live in rented apartments for years but were denied. Any right thinking government would understand that those persons are even more vulnerable in this COVID time, since they have rent to pay each month. What kind of caring government would operate in such a manner?
Mr. Editor, the Guyanese public, whether they support the PPP/C or APNU/AFC, expects the government of the day to be competent, non-discriminatory and to govern in a way that benefits all Guyanese. This current installed administration had five months after March 2nd plus three more months upon being installed on August 2nd, to get their acts together and to put in place a comprehensive plan to deal with COVID-19 and its relief measures.
With the appointment of not one but three ministers of Health, all receiving super salaries, one would have thought that they would have gotten a grip of the situation by now.
Instead, COVID-19 continues to spiral out of control and their attempts to bring relief to the public is marred in discrimination and mismanagement.
As the Geographical Member of Parliament, it is my sworn duty to represent all the people of Region Two. I would like to assure the public that I will work tirelessly to expose the misdoings of this current administration and to fight for equality and justice for all. To this end, I will continue to apply pressure on the installed government and to represent those who were treated unfairly with respect to the COVID-19 relief fund.
To this end, I call for an independent investigation into the disbursement of taxpayers’ dollars in the form of COVID-19 relief in Region 2.
Shurwayne Forbes Kennedy Holder
Member of Parliament.
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