The sums budgeted for the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry were passed in the National Assembly on Tuesday and now stands as part of the 2016 estimates of expenditure.
Among monies approved were $50 million for upgrades to the parks under the National Parks Commission. This includes the Botanical Gardens and the National Park in Georgetown.
Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman, zoned in on the popular Botanical Gardens recreation park and said the intent is to restore the garden to its original intent of botany.
The Minister spoke about upgrades to the fence structure of the facility, drainage and irrigation and landscape.
A black caiman walkway will also be constructed. The monies were approved but not without a series of questions from the opposition benches.
The sum of $219 million was approved for the Ministry’s policy development and administration while $6.4 million was approved for natural resource management. Additionally, 474.5 million was approved for environmental management.
Opposition Member of Parliament, Juan Edghill pointed out that there were Personal Assistants to the Minister with one earning $100,000 and another earning $409,000. He requested an explanation for the difference in salaries.
Minister Trotman told the Committee of Supply that both individuals were highly qualified and may be more qualified than he is. Meanwhile Opposition Chief Whip Gail Teixieira called on the Minister to offer explanation on why some Forest Rangers are in the Ministry and not based at the Guyana Forestry Commission.
Minister Trotman read out a contract which was singed since November 27, 2014 by the former Minister of the Public Service Ministry, stating that the employee will be placed at the Ministry. He explained that he inherited this from the previous government.
Trotman and the Opposition members also clashed on whether the 548 hectares of State Land will be assessed and surveyed. Minister Trotman says the issue of State Lands is obviously a vexed issue and government has every intention to preserve whatever lands are left. (Kurt Campbell)