Mr. Damon: Mr. Speaker and all other Hon. Members of this House, I stand here in true earnest to support this Budget presented by the Hon. Minister of Finance under the theme, A Better Guyana for All Guyanese. This is a Budget, I think, that will boost the confidence of every sector in Guyana, be it agriculture, education, security, health, local government or electricity. It is indeed the Budget that Guyanese were waiting for.
In Region 2, more small businesses would benefit greatly from this Budget and new ones would come on stream, which would create employment. If we proceed in any other way to develop our country, as proposed by that side of this honourable House, it spells doom for this beautiful land of my birth.
In Region 2, our rice farmers are producing to their capacity, and I talk about rice, of course, more than one million bags per crop. It is because of this situation our millers sometimes dominate the playing field and pay low prices for paddy purchased from farmers. I propose that from the $500 million in the 2014 Budget, a five tonne mill must be built in Region 2 with part of that sum and I hope the Members on that side of the House do not use their cutting equipment.
I want to congratulate the Hon. Minister of Agriculture and the PPP/C Administration for making rice farmers and, of course, agriculture priority in Region 2. The PPP/C Administration stands resolute behind rice farmers throughout Guyana.
In Lima, the water purification plant is serving residents of Region 2 well. Congratulations to the Hon. Minister of Housing. In all seven housing schemes in Region 2, buildings are going up at a rapid pace. This is testimony that this PPP/C Government is here to stay. So say the people of Region 2.
The two ferries continue to do a fantastic job plying the Essequibo River from Parika to Supenaam return daily. No more speculation by truckers and businessmen about when goods and produce will reach their destinations.
The putting up of road lights on the main public road is moving apace and, as I speak, these pole lights are at Jibb village, eight miles from Charity. In this 2014 Budget, more pole lights would be mounted from Jibb to Charity. Hon. Minister of Public Works and the PPP/C Administration, thanks for a job well done. The residents of Region 2 are very proud to have pole lights along the public road. Before, it was a distant dream under the People’s National Congress (PNC).
From 2012 to 2014, more auto dealers have opened their auto shops, selling all models of vehicles. This is proof that the 5% growth Guyana achieved, we, Essequibians, are part and parcel of that. Hon. Minister of Finance, we heard you and we responded so that Guyana can continue to achieve its growth.
Special kudos must be paid to the Hon. Minister of Education, Minister Priya Manickchand. The people of Region 2 continue to give you their support as some of their children continue to achieve high passes at the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examinations, second to no other in the Caribbean.
Ms. Hack, in 2013, and Ms. Yogeeta Persaud, Ms Zamina Rasheed and Ms. Dacia Campbell of Tapakuma, an Amerindian community, in 2014 are all top students in the Caribbean, of course. This is testimony that the best knowledge is being given to them by their teachers and the Ministry of Education.
Free school books, new desks and benches, free laptop computers, hot meals at the primary level, well established dorms and new schools can all be seen in Region 2. Minister, you have our children’s education priorities right. We salute you.
The Hon. Minister of Education made her presence felt at the Anna Regina Multilateral School sometime in August of last year. The Minister did not come alone. Every head of the education department of the Ministry was present. The Minister and her team met with more than 500 teachers and reminded the teachers of their responsibilities at the schools. It was a day of good discourse between the Hon. Minister and her team and teachers present. Let it be known to this House that yours truly and the department of education, including the Hon. Minister, engineered said meeting. These are some of the arrangements Members of Parliament (MPs) on that side of the House could do to help promote their regions, instead of coming to the National Assembly and crying foul. Hats off to you, Hon. Minister of Education! Region 2 would remain very competitive.
After our Budget debate, we plan to have our Minister visit our Region once more to meet all our teachers at the same venue and the Budget in focus would also be on our agenda. Let me clearly state that other Ministers would also be invited to Region 2 to talk about the dispensation of Budget 2014, a caring budget for all Guyanese.
In drainage and irrigation, a huge pump would be installed at Lima to help pump excess water into the Atlantic Ocean. This is testimony that the PPP/C Government is committed to helping the farmers of Region 2.
Our Amerindian brothers and sisters were not left out of previous budgets and the 2014 Budget makes provision for all our Amerindians in Region 2 to benefit. There are the villages of Mainstay, Tapakuma, Mashabo, Bethany, Kabakaburi, St. Monica, Kawab, Wakapau and Akawini. This PPP/C Government is committed to our first people, wherever they live. In this Budget, our first people would continue to stand tall in Region 2 and throughout the length and breadth of Guyana.
The county of Essequibo continues to attract lending institutions in the form of banks. As I mentioned in 2013, these banks are six in number and continue to serve the people of Region 2 well and, under the PPP/C Administration, these banks are here to stay.
Three huge conglomerates – Banks DIH Ltd, Demerara Distillers Limited (DDL) and the Busta Company – are no exception and continue to experience large sales of their commodities in Region 2. As I speak, Busta Company is expanding in Region 2.
Our gold miners continue to be the bulwark of our gold production and the Guyana Gold Board continues to do good business at Charity. Hats off to our Minister, the Hon. Robert Persaud.
Our roads in Region 2 are now congested with vehicles and, per chance, our Hon. Minister should pay some attention to the widening of the Region 2, which would help to avoid accidents.
Our once porous sea defence continues to receive attention. As I speak, work is ongoing in J/C, Zorg areas, Devonshire Castle, Hampton Court, Lima are completed with sturdy rip rap sea defence. Hon. Minister Benn, I salute you.
Region 2 also continues to stamp its authority by continuing to be the cleanest Region in Guyana. We have learnt not to dispose of our garbage anywhere but in bins supplied.
Our hotels and our holiday resorts continue to do well.
I am shocked at the presentation by some Members on that side of this House during their 2014 Budget Presentation. I sometimes wonder if nothing good was done by this PPP/C Administration in their regions.
Hon. Member Mr. Bulkan gave this honourable House the impression that the RDC is the one which should dispense contracts. Hon. Member, you are so wrong. The REO is the accounting officer of the Region and he has his regional tender board, including the Minister’s representative. He is answerable for the spending in the Region, not the Regional Chairman and his councillors; get that straight, Mr. Bulkan.
The Hon. Member also stated that the PPP/C Government uses regional vehicles to do campaign work. Are you out of your mind, Hon. Member?
Any Minister is entitled to be taken around...
Mr. Speaker: Mr. Damon, a minute please. Mr. Bond, did you want to rise on a point of order? What are you all signalling me for? Members of the Opposition... Mr. Greenidge, go ahead please.
Mr. Greenidge: Is this acceptable parliamentary language to refer to another Member as being out of his mind?
Mr. Speaker: I have to confess that I did not hear. Mr. Damon, did you refer to a particular or a specific Member of the House? Mr. Damon, it could be seen...
Mr. Damon: Mr. Speaker, I was just asking a question. I have received an answer, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker: One second, please. Mr. Damon, you posed a question which I consider to be rhetorical. Or were you really asking the question?
Mr. Damon: Rhetorical, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Greenidge: Mr. Speaker, does that mean that the rest of us are able to ask, “Are you an idiot?” Is that acceptable?
Mr. Speaker: Mr. Damon, I appreciate that it is a question but I would ask that we, Members, do not speak to other Members in that way because in local parlance, it really means that one is not of sound mind. That is what it means in local parlance. We know what it means. I think that you would appreciate that so I would ask that you withdraw that and let us move on.
Bishop Edghill: The Hon. Member, Mr. Greenidge, raised a matter but I sat here yesterday and, several times, I heard, with that distinct European accent, “nonsense, nonsense, nonsense”.
Mr. Speaker: What I would ask you to do is bring it to my attention on the next occasion.
Mr. Damon, please proceed.
Mr. Damon: Okay, Mr. Speaker. Thank you. The Hon. Member, Dr. Ramayya, went at length to criticise the Police Force. Indeed, we might have a few bad policemen but I am aware that majority of the police are dedicated and hardworking and are trying their best to ensure that Guyana is a safe place and, in some instances, they lose their lives in the process. The Hon. Member further went on to call on the Hon. Minister of Home Affairs to resign - confounded nonsense.
Mr. Speaker: Mr. Damon, I would ask that you withdraw that. Mr. Damon, you may have heard that reference by politicians in the past, but they used those terms outside of this House. No Member of this House speaks nonsense and we are not to refer to the presentation or the words of any other Member as being nonsense so that is withdrawn as well.
Mr. Damon: I withdraw, Hon. Member. I think this Tenth Parliament had enough of that call that the Hon. Member, Mr. Rohee, must go. Hon. Minister Rohee will never go! He will not resign! Hon. Member Dr. Ramayya, Hon. Member Rohee is here to stay as the Home Affairs Minister under the PPP/C Administration! He will not go!
I wonder if nothing good was done in any of these regions that those Members on that side of the House fail to enlighten us on.
This is not the campaign trail; it is the parliamentary debate on the 2014 Budget with the theme, A Better Guyana for all Guyanese.
On many occasions, the Hon. Member, Mr. Granger, called on the PPP/C Government to address the issue of unemployment. I wonder how the Opposition can say no to Amelia Falls Hydro Project and talk about jobs. How can Members of the Opposition say no to the Marriott Hotel project and talk about jobs? And may I remind you... [Interruption] I need some protection, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker: Hon. Members, please. [Interruption]
Mr. Damon: I need some protection, Mr. Speaker. [Interruption]
Mr. Speaker: One second. Mr. Damon, please hold. Members, please note that when there is disruption, the time has stopped so one does not lose one’s time.
I think that we can safely proceed, Mr. Damon.
Mr. Damon: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. May I remind you, Hon. Member Lt. Col. (Ret’d) Harmon, that your stay at the Marriott will very soon become a reality.
How can the Opposition oppose the Cheddi Jagan International Airport’s expansion project and talk about jobs? They are also saying no to the Specialty Hospital Project and talk about jobs. All these projects would have created thousands of jobs for our Guyanese brothers and sisters.
In the first five years, if the Amelia Falls had come into being, experts predicted more than 200 huge investors would have moved to Guyana and that would have been a great achievement for Guyana. Look at jobs that you would have been having there.
Hon. Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports, your allocation to Region 2 for the development of playgrounds and pavilions were well received. Our Region continues to support you and your Ministry in your quest to bring the various sports disciplines to Region 2.
Hon. Member Mr. Trotman, in his 2014 budget speech asked “What is new?” Those who have eyes to see, let them see and those who have ears to hear, let them hear. I am prepared to take the Hon. Member, Mr. Trotman, throughout the length and breadth of Guyana, free of cost, to let him see what is new, with my own money. Why is the Hon. Member stifling his conscience? Be man enough to give praise where praise should be.
To date, MPs on that said of the honourable House try to create the impression that nothing good is done by the PPP/C Administration.
The New Opportunity Corps (NOC) population continues to strive for excellence. Students continue to excel in various chores which would help them to find jobs or become self-employed when they leave that institution. I remember Mashramani Day 2014 in Region 2. About 40 members of the NOC population, smartly dressed in their costumes, won the first prize. Additional staff members have since been added to the NOC.
Hon. Member Mr. Jones, without the Hon. Minister of Home Affairs, permission would not be given for any tint.
Mr. Speaker: Hon. Member Mr. Damon, please begin to wrap up now.
Mr. Damon: Okay, Sir. Thank you. I am wrapping up, Sir. I vividly remember the words of our late great leader when he was leaving Guyana to seek medical attention overseas – “Don’t be worried. Everything will be alright.” His words did come to pass. Peace, progress and prosperity are everywhere in Guyana, from Springlands to Region 1.
Our cricket team, the West Indies, has just qualified for a semi-final berth at the T20 World Cup and I boast that the West Indies will retain the World Cup.
Once again, Hon. Minister of Finance, you have done a fantastic job to present such a budget to this Parliament and this country. I praise you. Hats off to you, Mr. Finance Minister.
Mr. Speaker, as lawyers do, I close my case. [Applause]