Sukhai rejects President’s proposal for establishment of Indigenous Peoples Authority
The President during the opening of the National Toshaos Conference today proposed that a five-member Indigenous People’s authority be established to overlook the implementation of policies coming out of the National Toshaos Conference, as well as the policies and programmes authorised by the cabinet, National Assembly and the government.
The president believes that the time has come for the establishment of a permanent administrative arrangement for Hinterland communities pointing to a “parallel” system of governance that obtains on the coastland.
“Whether there should be an Indigenous People’s Authority which implements those decisions and resolves the problems affecting indigenous communities . The Ministry of Indigenous Peoples Affairs if it wants a road built it has to speak to the Ministry of Public Infrastructure if it wants a school fixed it has to speak to the Ministry of Education, ” the President said.
He further highlighted “it’s unfair to ask the Ministry to be a postman simply transmitting requests from one agency and seeking solutions to another. We need to clothe the Ministry of Indigenous People’s Affairs with the authority to act decisively to deal with some of these problems.”
However, Opposition Member of Parliament and former Minister of Amerindian Affairs, Pauline Sukhai has rejected this as merely an attempt to usurp the power of the National Toshaos Council and the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples Affairs.
“I don’t see independence in that what I would believe should be happening as is mentioned there in the minister’s speech there is need for support in empowering, training indigenous people. I would like to see more of that in terms of Government’s leadership, management etc…how will you be establishing a five-man committee when there is an established Ministry of Indigenous People’s Affairs with two ministers and highly technical staff and also you have NTC,” Sukhai posited.
The Opposition MP also believes that more funding is needed to offset several activities geared towards the development of Indigenous Communities, pointing out that not much has been done to address land-related matters.
Meantime, Chairman of the NTC, Joel Fredericks has agreed with the establishment of the Indigenous Peoples Authority, however, he is proposing that two executives from the NTC sit on the committee, pointing to the fact that the Toshaos are the ones who are fully aware of the issues and can better inform the President.