When challenged at a press conference recently about his rhetoric and why farmers still appeared to be suffering even after years of promises, Premier Wheatley, who previously served as the Minister for Agriculture, said he has been frustrated along the way by “bureaucratic processes”.
“I would disagree that it’s just pure talk. Certainly, we’ve made a lot of tangible progress over the past three years,” Premier Wheatley said.
“You know, we have processes – we have a budgeting process, you have legal processes – you have all types of other bureaucratic processes that take time. I would like to see these things happen much more quickly, but unfortunately this is where we are,” the Premier explained.
He said it is therefore the duty of elected official to push to streamline processes and make them more effective and more efficient.
The Premier further argued that it is not just elected officials that have to make government work more efficiently.
“We need the public service as well — which is led by the governor — to ensure that we streamline processes, make them less bureaucratic so that we can deliver for the people,” Premier Wheatley shared.
In the meantime, the Premier sought to highlight a number of accomplishments by his government in the sector, expressing happiness that the Agriculture Fair had returned after being away for some years. He promised an even bigger event in future.
According to the Premier, the Water and Sewage Department (WSD) has also made some real efforts to get farmers water, particularly in the Paraquita Bay area.
“They (WSD) ran a whole new pipe from the Sabbath Hill Reservoir, from the Spring Ghut area down to Paraquita Bay to help farmers get water there,” Dr Whealtey said.
Prior to this, the Premier explained, farmers were given free water from a cistern. He also noted that this cistern will eventually be used by the sewerage treatment plant.
The Premier also pointed to the development of a water policy by his government, and insisted that the long-talked-about reservoir promised by his government will materialise.
“We’ve identified the resources to make the reservoir happen,” he stated.
The Premier further assured that an amended money services bill that was passed in the House of Assembly (HOA) recently had an allocation of $1.9 million for the agriculture and fisheries sector.
Dr Wheatley said this amount will allow the government to procure the long-promised reservoir and to start rebuilding the agriculture and fisheries complex destroyed in the hurricanes five years ago.