Amerindian land titling, demarcation to move ahead – Gov’t and UNDP sign US$10.7M agreement

Georgetown, GINA, October 21, 2013

 

The titling of 13 Amerindian communities and the demarcation of 33 villages will soon commence following a US$10.7M agreement signed between the Guyana Government and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Minister of Finance Dr. Ashni Singh, UNDP Resident Representative Khadija Musa and Minister of Amerindian Affairs Pauline Sukhai inked the agreement at the commencement of the National Toshaos Council (NTC) meeting this morning at the Guyana International Conference Centre, Liliendaal.  NTC Chairman Derrick John bore close witness.

When completed, the process will add to the 97 Amerindian communities that have been titled and the other 77 that have had their lands demarcated since its commencement under the governing People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) administration.

The funding is made possible under the Guyana REDD Investment Fund (GRIF) that was established after Guyana and Norway signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the country to receive US$250M in performance based incentives by the end of the year 2015.

Land titling and demarcation can be considered a legacy of the ruling party in promoting the development in Amerindian communities.

At the conclusion of the last NTC meeting, President Donald Ramotar handed over land titles to Kato, Kariabo, Batavia, Kambaru, Tasarene, Kangaruma, Rupanau and Rivers View.

The Head of State who was a witness to today’s signing, lamented the fact that the process could have been undertaken much earlier had it not been for the political opposition rejecting funding for the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) this year in the parliament.

“Last year too, the joint opposition cut $18.4B from our LCDS, Guyana REDD + Investment Fund (GRIF) projects that we had in the budget… this land titling that will begin now should have started one year ago, and we would have saved time… time is money… when we delay, we are left back,” President Ramotar said.

With leader of the A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) David Granger present at today’s event, President Ramotar also bemoaned the political opposition cutting $19B from this year’s budget that was also targeting Amerindian communities’ development.

The land titling process begins when with the community submits a request to the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs, indicating the parameters of interest to be plotted. Hand plotted boundaries are submitted in a diagram format, accompanied by a letter stating the name of the community/population and a description of the area based on natural boundaries.

The application is also accompanied by an authorisation for the village council with ratification from a two-thirds majority of village officials.

The process is complete when the community/village is handed a certificate which not only confirms that occupants are the rightful owners, but is a necessary stage in the enabling of sustainable social and economic development.

An attempt by one group to derail the process by alleging that it was fraudulent was described by President Ramotar as an attempt to “feather their own nest instead of promoting Amerindian development.”

The political opposition and their allies have often been blamed for influencing such moves, and were urged by the President not to obstruct progress in Guyana.

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