Up to $35M for each Indigenous community from Guyana’s forest deal


Each indigenous community across Guyana is set to receive up to $35 million in direct disbursements from the country’s historic forest-saving payments deal with Hess Corporation, Vice President Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo announced on Wednesday.

While surrounded by Toshaos from over 200 Indigenous communities at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre at Liliendaal, Georgetown, Dr. Jagdeo said an equitable distribution of the funds is the government’s priority.

Population size is also a key determinant.

And so, a minimum of $10 million and up to $35 million will be disbursed to each community. A total of US$22 million (about GY$4.6 billion), or 15 per cent of the first set of payments from Hess, is currently available to the Indigenous communities.

“Some communities like Aishalton, the bigger communities, will get $35 million while the smaller communities will get $10 million,” Dr. Jagdeo said.

And that money will be placed into a bank account by next week but the Toshaos must ensure that key provisions are in place before they can access the funds.

Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo engaging over 200 Toshaos at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre at Liliendaal, Georgetown (Photo: News Room/ February 15, 2023)

Specifically, communities must name a finance committee and develop their Village Development Plans.

“… you can’t draw down this money until you name your finance committee and complete your village development plan (which) must be endorsed by the village and share the minutes of the meeting in which the village endorsed the development plan,” Dr Jagdeo said.

Earlier Wednesday, the Vice President said he hopes the Indigenous communities can spend their funds on income-generating ventures. At this engagement, he said the government prefers the money to be spent in the social sector, for job creation and/or on food security efforts.

He, however, acknowledged that the villages themselves will determine their priorities.

Meanwhile, the Vice President sought to reassure the Indigenous leaders that these funds are separate from the resources allocated through the Amerindian Development Fund and the government’s other spending priorities.

And once more funds are collected from Hess, or from other buyers, the Indigenous communities will get more money.

Previously, Dr. Jagdeo said that indigenous communities across Guyana will get at least US$112 million from the US$750 million sum being paid by Hess.

Meanwhile, Chairman of the National Toshaos Council (NTC), Derrick John, reminded the gathering that the NTC, when it last met, signaled its support for the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) which facilitates the forest payments deal and the 15 direct allocations.

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