$7.8B flood compensation relief grant begins

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Government has officially rolled out its $7.8 billion flood relief compensation package for ordinary citizens who lost crops and livestock due to recent floods and the recipients are hailing the initiative as a “great relief.”

Four Ministers, Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh, Attorney General Anil Nandlall, Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha and Local Government Minister Nigel Dharamlall, were out in Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne) where the distribution started.

The distribution points included the Rose Hall Estate Ground, the JC Chandisingh Secondary School in Port Mourant and the Yakusari Primary School in Black Bush Polder.

Paula Chisolm, who was one of the recipients of the flood relief cheques, lauded the imitative and explained that when the floods came, she experienced significant losses in her poultry stocks. According to her, she first got her start thanks to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and now she has a second chance thanks to the flood relief cheque.

“I’m very grateful for the cheque because I know to myself I had a great loss in my meat birds and also my layers. USAID gave us 145 layers and I build from that. And now I have 15 layers. So I’m grateful,” Chisolm said.

Shellon Wilson, another recipient, also expressed thanks to the Government. Lauding President Dr Irfaan Ali and Government for taking care of the people, she said the money will go a long way to replace crops and livestock that were destroyed by the floods. Another beneficiary described it as a great relief

“It’s great relief, it comes at a very good time. Because the flood waters had really shake we up. And this is a great imitative of the Government,” the man, who also lost crops in the floods, explained.

Prakash Singh, who also collected his flood relief cheque, extended thanks to the Government for the assistance. Navin Jaikissoon, another recipient, also thanked President Ali, going on to urge him to “continue to do the good work.”

“Very good initiative, that will help people in this place here. And we glad that this Government doing a very good job. And we congratulate them. The President, the Vice President. They doing very good, they helping the poor people. Is a lot of loss we lost. So, we accept and bless,” one recipient said.

Omawattie Rampertaub, meanwhile, said that the flood relief cheque is much needed, as her husband is unwell. “He used to work at Oldendorff and since Oldendorff gone he na work anymore. So I’m very grateful for this kind of assistance,” Rampertaub said.

Between May and June this year, heavy rains resulted in widespread flooding across the country, affecting thousands of households. The devastation included submerged buildings and vehicles with adverse effects on crops, livestock and health.

It has been noted that the rainfall experienced in May alone was recorded as the second highest level of rainfall across the country in the last 40 years. All 10 administrative regions in Guyana experienced varied levels of flooding, prompting Government to roll out immediate responses such as evacuation of those most at risk and flood assistance.

Following extensive fieldwork, the President had announced in a national address last month that $7.8 billion in flood relief assistance would be provided for citizens and farmers who were affected in all 10 administration regions by the rains and flooding that beset Guyana earlier this year

Approximately 52,000 households were affected in categories of homestead farmers, kitchen gardens, and households exclusive of farms/gardens. In these categories, the Head of State noted, farmers within the context of a homestead will receive $100,000 each, those with kitchen gardens will receive $50,000 each and households excluding homestead and kitchen garden will receive 50,000 each.

The President explained that the combined assistance to homestead farmers, kitchen gardens and households for these categories will be in excess of $3.5 billion. He acknowledged that whilst some large-scale farmers were severely affected, especially in the rice and poultry sectors, the ceiling of assistance will not exceed $10 million for individual farmers.

With regards to the rice sector, where 50,000 acres of farmlands and 2000 farmers were directly affected, President Ali announced that farmers with harvest ready rice that were destroyed will receive $80,000 per acre and rice sowed and lost in the autumn crop, these farmers will receive $65,000 per acre.

For land that was completely prepared but was not sowed, $45,000 per acre will be given to these farmers. In addition to this support, 60,000 bags of seed paddy will be made available. The combined assistance in these four categories will be in excess of $3.2 billion.