$2.7B approved for ADF to benefit Amerindian, hinterland communities

Amerindian and hinterland communities are set to benefit from numerous economic empowerment programmes, as the Committee of Supply on Monday approved $2.7 billion earmarked in Budget 2023 for the Amerindian Development Fund (ADF).

Minister of Amerindian Affairs, Pauline Sukhai while responding to questions posed by the opposition highlighted some of the projects that will be undertaken in these communities.

Minister of Amerindian Affairs, Pauline Sukhai along with staff from the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs on day one of the Consideration of Estimates

Monies have been set aside to promote entrepreneurship in Amerindian and hinterland communities. These include, $30 million for the establishment of bakeries, $96 million for sewing centres, $43 million for saw milling enterprises and $18 million for wood working enterprises.

“We have $10 million for enterprises to do with fishing, $13 million, cattle rearing and livestock, $18 million meat centres, $15 million guest houses relating to tourism. $56.5 million inclusive of $10 million to address lake front development, solar processing projects – $20 million, shade houses which will support our agriculture drive and contribute to our country’s food security and the indigenous communities,” Minister Sukhai relayed to the committee.

Preservation of Amerindian culture is key as $123 million has been approved for preservation of Amerindian languages and heritage sites, archaeology study in indigenous culture items among other initiatives.

In keeping with its manifesto promise, the presidential grants for Amerindian communities have been increased by 30 per cent in 2023.

“The presidential grant is not a new initiative; however, our manifesto spoke to an increase of the grant for the villages. So, villages have received increased in grants,” the Amerindian affairs minister pointed out.

A number of communities will receive ATVS, boats and outboard engines and other vehicles to improve access.

Minister Sukhai also told the committee that a sum of $80 million has been budgeted to carry out consultations with communities on the revision of the Amerindian Act of 2009.

In addition, $1.4 billion is catered for in budget 2023 to support the Community Service Officers under the Youth Entrepreneurship and Apprenticeship Programme (YEAP). Some 400 CSOs are set to be trained in various skillsets that are needed in their communities.

“The areas we will be training in is to build skillsets in tourism and hospitality, small engine repairs, garment construction, tractor repairs……these are relevant skillsets which are required in the village currently,” the minister noted.

Minister Sukhai alluded to the Guyana Online Academy of Learning (GOAL) scholarships and the Labour Ministry’s Board of Industrial Training (BIT) that will also allow Amerindian youths to be certified in various skillsets.

Overall, $4.7 billion has been approved for Amerindian development programmes for 2023.