No more ‘lofty promises, candy dreams’ for Amerindians – Gov’t says
With large sums of monies set aside in the 2020 National Budget for Amerindian and hinterland development, the Government is reassuring the First Peoples of Guyana that it will deliver on all promises made.
The Government in its budget presentation says it intends to support the country’s indigenous people in the areas of food security, youth development, student welfare, women initiatives, agriculture, eco-tourism and grant monies to fund social and productive micro-projects.
Minister of Amerindian Affairs Pauline Sukhai welcomed the budgeted sums for Amerindian and hinterland development and said she will work with the people on the ground to ensure the monies are utilised to the benefit of the people.
She welcomed the $800 million that has been allocated to the Amerindian Development Fund (ADF), providing $300 million for the purchase of tractors and accessories to incentivise agricultural economic activity within indigenous communities.
“This money will be used to reintroduce the Community Service Officers (CSOs) programme, to provide presidential grants to the village council, to support the ICT hub introduction, to provide 26 villages with support to rehabilitate the hubs that were prepared in anticipation. We will also be supporting food security activities and initiatives, provide tools to communities, supporting school children transportation for some of the villages, we will also be looking at women… so there are a variety of activities between October to December and we very hopeful and prepared to run with the expenditures and engage the village councils in utilising amount provided in 2020,” Sukhai said.
Further, to support the effective governance function of the National Toshao’s Council and as a key gesture of respect for our indigenous peoples, the Government has committed to commencing the design of a new head office for the Council, with an initial allocation of $10 million.
Aside from the stimulus provided by the ADF, Government has also allocated over $800 million for the Hinterland Roads Programme which will address construction and rehabilitation of roads across Regions 1, 7, 8, 9 and 10.
To complement these construction works, the government removed Value Added Tax (VAT) on travel to the hinterland.
Additionally, there will be resuming the Amerindian Land Titling programme with vigour to ensure the rights of indigenous peoples are protected.
Amerindian communities will also be benefiting from the COVID-19 cash assistance announced by the Government – about 19,000 Amerindian households are expected to benefit from the $25,000 cash transfer, with an allocation of about $475 million.