12 Amerindian communities in Region Seven benefit from COVID-19 fund
-Prime Minister, Minister Teixeira urge villagers to invest wisely
Prime Minister, Hon. Brigadier (ret’d) Mark Phillips and Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Governance, Hon. Gail Teixeira today, travelled to four Amerindian villages in the Cuyuni-Mazaruni (Region Seven) to distribute the COVID-19 relief fund for investment to 12 communities.
During his first stop at Imbaimadai/Omainaik/Karambaru, Prime Minister Phillips handed over a cheque valued $10 million to village leaders. He told them the Government designed the grant to help vulnerable Amerindian communities to design and implement sustainable projects that would cushion the effects of Covid.
He said the Government aims to ensure that development is equitable and persons across all the regions benefit. The Prime Minister also said the Government expects that the process to identify projects would be democratic and would bring economic development to their communities.
“Your collective thoughts will have to be brought to bear at the level of the council, chaired and presided on by the Toshao and from that process you identify your project, you get your estimates and so done.
You sign off in terms of the estimates, and then you start the project and you monitor it until the end because you, as the leaders, of your community, are responsible for the development of your community. We at Central Government level can only facilitate and that’s what we are doing today,” Prime Minister Phillips said.
A $10 million cheque was handed over to Chinowieng while at Wax Creek, he presented village leaders with a cheque for $5 million. At Phillippai, he handed over $15 million, $3 million each at Amakokopai and Wayalayeng and Paruima benefited from $10 million.
Meanwhile, Minister Teixeira met residents of Kamarang/Warawatta where she distributed $10 million each to Kako, Waramadong and Kubenang. Jawalla received $15 million. While noting that the grant would not fix all of the challenges, she expressed hope that the villages would use the money in the best interest of the people and with their input.
“It has to be a community project. This money is not going into one person’s pocket, nor is this money to be used in the easy way. When you have to call people in the community together and decide on a date and sit down and talk and hear different views and come up with a decision take time, and if you do it in a democratic way, it will take time,” Minister Teixeira said.
She also noted the challenges imposed by Covid and provided an update on the measures the Government is implementing to buttress the nation and help people restart their livelihoods.
“A lot of attention was to COVID-19, not only the health aspect but dealing with the impact on the lives of our people. Many businesses were closed, people were out of work, thousands of people have lost their jobs, children are at home.
Some of the things people were able to make a living with, they haven’t been able to, there isn’t nobody to sell it to, so those were the areas of the health aspect and try to reduce the economic impact,” she said.
Minister Teixeira told residents this latest grant follows a series of measures the Government has implemented since coming to office in August to support the nation. This fund, along with the $25,000 per household COVID-19 relief cash grant, the grant for healthcare workers, the $15,000 school children’s grant, increase in old age pension, special bonuses for the army, police and public servants all form part of the Government’s comprehensive plan to stimulate the economy.
“When we add up all these things my dear friends, what we have put in our economy is about $13 billion we have given people in their hand and that was $13 billion to try to kick start the economy and to allow people to be able to brace themselves.”
Several of the recipients expressed gratitude for the intervention by Government, including Deputy Toshao of Paruima, Mr. Lennox Percy.
“Right now, the village is proud for the money; they are happy because with this COVID in place, no work people is in. You can’t travel to like Venezuela or other places so with that we could do things like either farming, poultry rearing or something so could have an income.”
He said the village would ensure that the fund is used for the betterment of all.