$947.6M spent on 243 projects through Presidential Grants in 2023 – Min Sukhai

A total of 245 Amerindian villages benefitted from the Presidential Grants (PG) programme as the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs spent a whopping $947.6 million to support 243 economic and social projects in 2023.

The PG programme is one of many critical initiatives undertaken by the government to boost economic independence, transform village infrastructure, and advance social development.

Minister Pauline Sukhai revealed during the ministry’s year-end press briefing on Tuesday that $261.3 million was expended to boost food security in these areas, as agriculture is a crucial part of the Amerindian communities.

In addition, $85 million supported 38 additional agriculture projects including the construction of 17 shade houses across several villages.

Acknowledging that transportation access is limited, a total of $177.6 million was used for 75 transportation projects, which prompted the creation of jobs and economic opportunities.

“That is transportation to move residence from village to central location like townships or to areas that serve as central supply centres, and the transportation of goods and services. And so, for us, 75 such projects are an achievement,” Minister Sukhai noted.

The grant also helped establish 85 business enterprises, including catering and baking centres, block-making factories, and sewing centres, signalling a $258.5 million investment in advancing entrepreneurship.

“These here are projects not to individuals, these are projects that are managed through the village councils…This included sawmills and a whole host of economic ventures like fuel depot, village shops…Which are critical to the operation and life in a village,” she disclosed.

The ministry also funded 158 infrastructural projects worth $171.1 million including construction of bridges, farm-to-market links, village offices, multipurpose buildings, benabs sanitary blocks, and other social and productive projects.

Meanwhile, to support the development of tourism in these areas, another $78.5 million was expended to support 23 tourism projects.

Over the years, the grant has been significantly increased, signalling a commitment outlined in the 2020 manifesto, being fulfilled by the PPP/C Administration.