Tony Vieira's Comments
18 October 2017

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Budgetary Allocation of the Regions
(Aired 13 January 2003)

   I have been attacked for saying that the Afro Guyanese in this country are getting a raw deal. I do not make statements lightly ladies and gentlemen and I can prove what I say.

   The 2002 budget has several typographical errors, this is not unusual, but this budget has some whoppers, on introductory page Roman numeral VII of contents under "Regional Development Sector" the budget sections 71-89 seeks to identify the monetary allocations of Central Government to the 10 regions.

  We find region ONE Barima/ Waini listed as being in section 71, we also see region ONE Pomeroon / Supernam in section 72, we also find region ONE Essequibo Islands / West Demerara in section 73, then there is region ONE Mahaica / Berbice in section 74, we then find another region ONE Mahaica / Berbice in section 75, THEN we see region SIX East Berbice / Corentyne.

   According to this national 2002 budget document therefore, region one is in fact regions 1-5 and was never corrected. Great way to accept the national budget of this nation, members of parliament, on both sides.    

   Let us examine the budgetary allocation to the Regions per capita; to do this we have to consider these regions as populated by voters, it is the only viable statistic we have to determine the amount of people living in the 10 regions.

   I know that it is ridiculous ladies and gentlemen, but they have to know who the voters are in each region so that we can manipulate the ballot accordingly, so they keep a close check on THAT figure and not what the actual population of the country is, region by region. By the way has anyone heard of the status of the national census lately?

  After spending half an hour deciphering this nonsense I discovered that the total central government current expenditure to Region ONE, the true Region ONE, Barima / Waini was 519.734 million, for the purpose of this commentary I am going to round off all amounts to the nearest million so this is 520 million dollars.

Region 2 Pomeroon / Supernam, 1.04 Billion.

Region 3 Essequibo Islands / West Demerara, 1.35 Billion.

Region 4 Demerara / Mahaica, 1.36 Billion.

Region 5 Mahaica / Berbice, 811 million.   

Region 6 East Berbice / Corentyne, 1.7 billion.

Region 7 Cuyuni / Mazaruni, 488 million.

Region 8 Potaro / Siparuni, 274 million.

Region 9 Upper Takatu / Upper Essequibo got 466 million.  

Region 10 Upper Demerara / Upper Berbice got 808 million.

   What does this translate to in terms of allocation in Guyana Dollars per voter? Let's see, we allocated a total of 8.817 billion to the 10 regions which had a total of 440,185 voters, if the distribution was equitable it should work out to an average of $20,000 per voter, here is what I found; in Region one it was $45,324 per voter; in Region 2 it was 39,643 per voter; in Region 3 it was 22,1238 per voter; in Region 4 it was 7,025 repeat 7,025 per voter; in Region 5 it was 26,418 per voter; in Region 6 it was 23,611 per voter; in Region 7 it was 51,385 per voter; in Region 8 it was 31,289 per voter; in region 9 it was 53,215 per voter and in Region 10 it was 36,889 per voter.  

   Here is the problem, it is why I started this investigation in the first place, Region 4 has nearly 44% of the population of the country but only receive 15.4% of this regional budgetary allocation, but East Berbice which has 16.5% of the voter population receives 19.3% of the total allocation, it is out of all proportion to the reality of the situation. Regions 1, 2, 7&9 also receive allocations which far exceed their population. I have the budgets for the past 4 years and they all reflect this imbalance, so in the past 4 years 1998-2002 Region 4 only got around 1/3 of the allocation based on its population. Nearly 11 BILLION dollars less.

   On inquiring why this was so, to be completely fair and accurate in my investigation, I was told that the Region 4 contains the residents of Georgetown and they get subventions from central Government in another way, I called the Mayor of Georgetown and he confirmed that indeed Central government had given him 16 million Guyana dollars this year, but that Central Government owes the city 60 million for non payment of rates and taxes. He also informed me that every request he has ever made to broaden his tax base, wharf fees, road taxes etc have all been refused by Central Government.

    I was told by the local government people that the Georgetown city council collect rates from the residents of Georgetown so they should not need help from Central Government, I asked myself WHY I was paying Village rates in my area, if they are getting normal allocations from Central Government, I was unable to give myself an answer.

     There is no doubt in my mind, ladies and gentlemen, no doubt whatsoever that Region 4 and the city of Georgetown are getting a raw deal and are being systematically starved for funds, the money is being used to buy votes in other regions not only regions where the Indo Guyanese traditionally reside but this budget targets areas of the hinterland to gain favour with the Amerindian vote. Open your eyes and look around you and you will see endless and glaring examples of the neglect this starvation of funds by this government since 1992 has caused in the Demerara Region and the Capitol City of Georgetown, the atrocity they call the East Bank Highway, the bad roads, the dirty drains, the vendors and where to put them, the mini buses and where to park them, the filth everywhere, the poverty everywhere, the joblessness everywhere.

    What is most obscene is that within this same Region 4 and the City of Georgetown reside 193,000 people who are the sitting ducks for taxation in this country, the civil servants, the police, the army, the nurses and doctors of all the hospitals, the teachers, the employees of the courts, ALL of them, lawyers, clerks, judges magistrates, large businesses like Banks DIH, DDL etc, the employees of the various Ministries, they all reside in Georgetown. It is their taxes, why starve then of it in their environment. I need hardly add that the Indo Guyanese living in the Demerara / Mahaica Region 4 and in Georgetown are also affected by this lopsided allocation of funds.

   I must pause at this point, and tell you that those who make these plans have to plan for development, so it would not be inconsistent with that development plan, if some regions got moneys out of proportion to their population, this however is a consistent deprivation of funds to Region 4 which cannot be explained by development in other areas.

   Our Indo Guyanese brothers must understand, that I am not saying that they should get less allocations, I would not think of suggesting such a thing, but you must pay attention to this inequity, since it is you, the Indo Guyanese, whose votes are being bought with these lopsided allocations, you must understand that unless the playing field is levelled there cannot be peace, and in the end after you have voted for the unscrupulous persons who allocate this nation's resources in such a lopsided manner, simply to keep themselves in power, YOU have been made the targets of the anger of your Afro Guyanese brothers, not the corrupt politicians who are buying your votes regardless of the consequences to you, their own supporters, oh no, they are living in the mansions in which you have placed them surrounded by the total security you have given them, but are incapable of protecting YOU and me. In the interest of peace YOU have to demand that the pie be shared more equitably.     

    What also has to enter the equation is the waste that occurs in the rural and hinterland regions away from the scrutiny of the local media which, concentrated as they are in Region 4, are not vigilant enough to police it on behalf of the nation.

   There are certainly budgetary constraints to news gathering, but that is not an excuse, we are not keeping an eye on the way contracts are awarded, executed and monitored in these far flung regions and so the corruption, nepotism and waste that goes on in these rural and hinterland areas passes unseen and continues to cause unrest in the country, since depriving the most populous Region & the city of finances creates joblessness, poverty, despair and therefore CRIME. I, like you certainly do not condone it, but I understand what is fuelling it and so must you.

   Corruption destroys countries ladies and gentlemen, my commentary on Egypt and Venezuela showed you that, corruption HAS and still IS destroying this country as well, it must stop, or we will all perish and I don't mean punish, I MEAN perish. 

      These are the things I have been telling you in these comments ladies and gentlemen but when I tell you the truth, and I do so with some measure of danger to myself, I do it because it is time that the truth is told in this country. We are too close to anarchy to delude ourselves further, the question now, is, are you ready to hear the truth? Or do you want to continue listening to rhetoric, excuses and lies?