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Implementation of LCD projects among issues which should be addressed at NTC – PPP

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The Opposition People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) has raised a number of concerns relating to Guyana’s Indigenous people and which should be addressed at the ongoing National Toshaos Council’s (NTC) Conference.

The NTC conference is a major forum where leaders of Amerindian Villages meet with the President and Government Ministers to engage in frank formal discussions on issues. During the event, the Village leaders or Toshaos also bring development initiatives on behalf of their communities to be given serious consideration by the government.

The opposition in a press statement, pointed to statements allegedly made by top government leaders to have the 2006 Amerindian Act revised, though this was not a call made by the people themselves. The PPP noted that “it will strongly oppose any amendments that will dilute the rights of our indigenous Amerindian peoples,” as it called for consultation on same.

The party further expressed concern with the slothfulness in the implementation of the opt-in mechanism for the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS).

After 26 months in government, PPP stated that the LCDS identified programmes which include multi-year projects, the Amerindian Titling Project and the Amerindian Development Fund, which are fully funded under the REDD+/GRIF and the Government of Guyana/ Norway Partnership, “have yielded no results.”

As such, it highlighted that “applications for titles and extension of lands to Amerindian peoples and the demarcation of titled lands are now virtually at a stand-still.”

The PPP in its statement called on the NTC to address these issues. Also, the party pointed to the lands Commission of Inquiry which has gained much media attention since its establishment, noting that while it was put on hold, there has been no amendment of the gazetted terms of reference of the COI. This compounded by the Government’s move to establish new townships and Neighbourhood Development Councils in Regions 1, 7, and 9, were likened to threats communities which are already in possession of communal titled lands.

The Opposition also believes the dismissal of 1,972 young Amerindian Community Service Officers by the Ministry of Indigenous Affairs in July 2015 is an issue which still needs to be addressed as the promise to “replace the PPP’s CSO Programme with another such employment programme…is yet to be delivered.”

The PPP said the Government’s response to the alleged shortage of medical drugs in the hinterland regions and recent floods that affected Regions 7, 8, and 9, was “poor and delayed,” something which it deemed “an indictment of an uncaring government.” It is therefore urging the NTC to raise the possibility of supplementary finances to provide assistance to the affected communities.

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