President defends govt’s focus on Amerindian development
In response to calls for a larger payout to Guyana’s Indigenous Peoples from the carbon credits deal with the Hess Corporation, President Dr. Irfaan Ali on Sunday defended his government’s focus on Amerindian development.
The President, in an early morning address to the nation, said his government has been focusing on building new schools, protecting the environment, providing employment and other kinds of support.
And he contrasted his government’s efforts to those made by the former APNU+ AFC administration that is now Guyana’s parliamentary opposition.
According to the President, the former administration shelved Guyana’s Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) which would’ve seen Indigenous people benefitting from forest payments.
He also said there was little to no advancement of the Amerindian Land Titling project which was meant to provide legal ownership of lands to Indigenous communities. And he reminded the public that hundreds of Community Support Officers (CSOs) lost their jobs.
Because he believes his government is doing much more to support Indigenous development, he rejected calls made by the APNU+AFC opposition.
“I find it very hypocritical but I guess it’s the opportunistic nature of the people we are dealing with,” President Ali said.
What prompted the President’s live address on his Facebook page were calls for the allocation of funds to Indigenous communities to be increased.
As per the updated LCDS, 15 per cent of all proceeds from the country’s forest payments will be directly allocated to Indigenous Guyanese since they are the custodians of the forests.
With Hess’ first deposit made, Vice President Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo recently said a minimum of $10 million and up to $35 million will be disbursed to each Indigenous community. A total of US$22 million (about GY$4.6 billion) is currently available to the Indigenous communities.
The remaining 85 per cent of the payments will be spent on projects needed to help save Guyana from the harsh effects of climate change including flooding, and other development ventures.
On Sunday, President Ali acknowledged that there are many needs across the country, more so since Guyana, like other countries, is confronted by overlapping crises on climate change, energy and food security.
He, however, promised that the government will be responding in “varied forms” throughout the year to bring relief to people.