$120M distributed to over 850 Region Five fisherfolk

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Vice President Dr Bharrat Jagdeo greets fisherfolk at the Region Five (Mahaica-Berbice) at the MMA/ADA Compound

Vice President Dr Bharrat Jagdeo on Friday delivered on a promise of the PPP/C Administration, as he spearheaded the distribution of the $150,000 one-off cash grant to fisherfolk of Region Five (Mahaica-Berbice) at the MMA/ADA Compound. 

Grants were distributed to over 805 fisherfolk in these communities: Abary, Bath, Blairmont, Bushlot, Mahaicony, One Door, Onverwagt, Rosignol, Three Door, Number Two, Number Three, Number Four, Number 11, Number 12, Number 29 and Number 37 areas. 

The distribution represents an approximate $120M investment.  

The Vice President told the large gathering of fisherfolk that while the announcement of the grant was made a while back by President Dr Irfaan Ali, the government had to take some time to verify the list of beneficiaries. 

He said this was as a result of some persons being dishonest during the distribution of the farmers’ relief grant. 

Further, VP Jagdeo explained that this is part of the government’s efforts to cushion the effect of the rising cost of living due to a number of external factors, including the Russia/Ukraine war and the COVID-19 pandemic, which have affected the global supply chain. 

Reference was made to the part-time jobs initiative which enables persons to earn up to $40,000 per month for at least 10 days of work in government ministries and other agencies. 

The COVID-19 and farmers’ flood relief grants were also part of efforts to supplement household income. 

“So, we’re trying to put more money into people’s pocket, expand employment. So that whilst we’re generating the big plans for the development of the country and creating better jobs, people can have a better life. To help the farmers we have now given them some free fertiliser because their cost of fertiliser went up, so that we can help them also. So, we’ve been working with all the interest groups and we know that the fishermen too they face difficulties,” Dr Jagdeo noted. 

Given the seasonal nature of fishing, the Vice President urged fisherfolk to explore other options to earn, such as small business ventures, for which there is government support. 

“Our economy is shifting in a different direction, so we are preparing for that shift,” the VP said as he highlighted that a portion of the revenues accrued from the oil and gas sector will be used for major transformational projects in the health, education, infrastructure, agriculture and other sectors. 

He also encouraged them to take advantage of the training opportunities being provided, as well as the GOAL scholarship programme to prepare themselves for the transformational development that is currently taking place. 

As it relates to the harassment of fishermen who have to ply their trade in Surinamese waters, VP Jagdeo said the administration is aware of the challenges they face and will be writing the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). 

“I want to assure you, some of you may be fishing in those waters, we can’t tell them what to do, but we are not just going to be sitting on our hands,” said Dr Jagdeo. 

The Vice President also addressed a number of concerns raised by the residents. He was accompanied by Minister of Agriculture, Zulfikar Mustapha, Minister of Local Government and Regional Development, Nigel Dharamlall and representatives of the Ministry of Agriculture. 

The Vice President recently spearheaded the distribution in Regions Six, Four and Three.

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