…As school commissions computer labStudents of the Kwakwani Secondary School in Region 10 (Upper Demerara-Berbice) are expected to have a wider knowledge of the technology field because that educational institution was recently gifted with 15 new computers and new air conditioners for the commissioning of its computer lab.A student of the Kwakwani Secondary School cutting the ribbon to officially open the Computer LabThe generous donation was made by Rahaman Razac of R. Razac Business Enterprise as part of his corporate social responsibility to the community’s development.Head teacher of the Secondary School, Pamela Adrian, in her brief remarks at the opening of the facility, expressed gratitude to the businessman, the Guyana Forestry Commission, and Natural Resources Minister Raphael Trotman for making the event possible.Adrian noted that the event is a “memorable moment” for the school, and she pointed out that the donation is evidence of Razac’s understanding of making technology an embraceable tool to use in classrooms. She said the hardware now allows students to experience the era of digital explosion and develop their minds.Minister Trotman, who graced the opening ceremony with his presence, expressed his satisfaction and happiness for the contributions made. He urged students present to properly care for and utilise the equipment received in ways which would aid in their educational development.“We are in the age of technology; computers are the new slate. I challenge you all to make use of this technology and take care of it. Leave the computers in good standing for those coming after you, and focus on your schoolwork and studies.” Trotman admonishedResidents of the community also commended the businessman for the donation, and noted that it would now assist the secondary school and the entire community, since most of the students would benefit.The Minister and the GFC expressed their continuous commitment to the educational development of youths of the community, and to Kwakwani’s overall development through the natural resources sector.
… blames development officers for mismanagementThe Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs Ministry is unable to properly account for all of its assets and resources distributed across the regions, to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars, as a result of lapses in the procurement, fiscal management and accountability laws and obligatory regulations – a situation that has reached alarming proportions.Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs Ministry Permanent Secretary, Alfred King made the startling disclosure when he was joined by Indigenous People’s Affairs Minister Sidney Allicock and Minster within the Ministry, Valerie Gariddo-Lowe for the opening of a two-day meeting of the Ministry’s Community Development Officers (CDO).He told the CDOs gathered at Moray House, they also contribute to the mismanagement in the system. Pointing out the situation recently unearthed at the Ministry, through its various mechanism and outlying offices and unit, the Permanent Secretary said it has been failing to accurately account for resources that have been distributed.According to King, recent queries were undertaken by the Ministry that focuses on compliance with the Fiscal Management and Accountability Act and Guyana Procurement Laws among other standards.In making the disclosure, King said it was “only two days I was spending over three and half hours trying to not ramble but go through thoroughly, what is the assessment of the Ministry’s performance by the FMA standard by the Stores Regulation standard, by the Procurement Act standards and what we found is quite alarming in some cases.”According to the recently appointed Permanent Secretary, “there are queries as it relates to the Ministry not being able to account accurately and efficiently for the distribution of its assets and resources to support the community’s work.”He lamented this to be a most distressing, since on further investigations it was discovered that there are several gaps existing in the system, in addition to other breakdowns in the governance mechanisms.“What we found was that there were gaps as it relates to people who should be involved and persons who should be taking action to correct those deficiencies.”King said the Ministry has since taken cognisance of the existing gaps in the Indigenous Affairs Ministry’s operations. He highlighted too, “lots of parallel operations… things are happening and people are operating in silos when in fact we should be operating at one Ministry.”Permanent Secretary Alfred KingThe Ministry’s Permanent Secretary used the occasion of the two-day meet to challenge the CDOs in the formulation of strategies on the way forwards, to bring to fore and address the sore issues plaguing the Ministry such as outstanding liabilities.“I want to see you come up with a plan for us to reduce all those liabilities that we have out there.”DebtsBemoaning the point, the Permanent Secretary pointed to the Ministry’s solicitation of the services in various communities, such as with the Uniform Assistance Programme where persons are employed to construct the garments.“After a year and two sometimes we still owe the people out there…We operate an annual budget, that is a financial year from January to December and therefore we should not be talking about operationalising the previous year’s budget for five and six months into a new year, something is fundamentally wrong with that and must be changed.”Lamenting other woes being experienced by the Ministry and departments such as the CDO’s, King pointed to the Hinterland Employment Youth Service (HEYS) with some 1800 persons enlisted across the country –many of whom have since begun complaining.He regaled the objectives of the project which could ultimately lead youth employment and self-empowerment King chided the CDOs saying “if you are out there and you not part of this whole process of trying to empower young people then you are not really with the Ministry.”King was adamant the CDOs should take a more proactive role in engaging the HEYS and similar programmes targeting hinterland regions.“You are supposed to be ensuring that you help to coordinate and manage the mobilisation for these young people for monthly payments of their stipends, we are still getting reports that we are taking too long to get out there, that’s difficult to conceptualise if we know that we have ongoing presence on the ground,” according to King.He said “you can understand how frustrating it can be from time to time when we get these types of reports.” King was adamant during his interaction with the CDOs “If you don’t like what you do, best thing is to get out of it.”RelationshipsSpeaking to the importance of the CDOs and their relationship to the Ministry, King at the onset announced that the meetings will no longer be held annually.“You are regular staff and this should be statutory engagements where you are given policy directives,” in addition to performance reviews and evaluations.King said the meetings will in future be held with a quarterly arrangement “where you work closely with all the units in the Ministry to execute their works.”Community Development Officers attached to the Ministry are posted with the majority being located in Regions One (Barima-Waini), Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni), Eight (Potaro-Siparuni) and Nine (Upper Takatu-Upper Essequibo) while one officer is tasked with responsibility for the coastal Amerindian communities.The meeting was organised by the Ministry’s Department of Community Development and Governance.