Amerindian leaders urged to consult with villagers before making decisions

Minister of Amerindian Affairs, Pauline Sukhai, MP, is encouraging leaders of  Amerindian villages to work in the interest of all residents. The call followed complaints by residents that some village councils have been acting arbitrarily, without consulting villagers on projects in communities. 

Minister Sukhai visited villages in the Moruca Sub-district, Region One (Barima-Waini), at the weekend, where she addressed issues facing the councils.

Minister of Amerindian Affairs, Pauline Sukhai, MP, addressing residents of Skyland, Region One

On Friday, she journeyed through the Kumaka River to Santa Rosa, where she held a meeting with a number of toshaos, senior councillors and residents, and addressed several issues.

Among the concerns were reports of the malicious destruction of a resident’s fence, allegedly on the order of the Santa Rosa village council.

The minister instructed the village councils to utilise a consultative approach in the management of the village and treat all residents fairly and equally.

Minister of Amerindian Affairs arrives in Santa Rosa, Region One

“When we are training leaders in terms of governance, the Amerindian Act and so on, you are very clear that when you are elected you can’t be biased and you have to act within the parameters of the law. You can’t act outside the parameters and make decisions that suit you or your friends, or because you’re elected you are such an authoritative leader that you believe that your decision is final,” Minister Sukhai noted.

During the three-hour long meeting, leaders agreed to start taking a consultative approach to their work.

Toshaos and Councillors at the Meeting in Santa Rosa, Region One

The minister later handed over four tractors to toshaos to aid in the economic development of their villages.

On Saturday, Minister Sukhai travelled to Kamwatta, where she handed over a tractor to the toshao there.

She also held a meeting with residents, who sought information about the ICT hub.  The village has already completed its hub. The Office of the Prime Minister will soon install the equipment before it becomes functional.

Residents of Kamwatta listening attentively to Minister of Amerindian Affairs, Pauline Sukhai, MP

Minister Sukhai, meanwhile informed villagers of government’s plans to increase the Community Support Officers (CSOs) programme, catering for a further 500 this year. When Budget 2022 is passed, Government will have the greenlight to have 2,500 CSOs contributing to the development of their villages.

During the lengthy, but fruitful discussions, she also spoke of the budgeted $561 million for Amerindian Land Titling, which will ensure that 20 villages receive their title.

On Sunday, the minister visited Skyland, where she presented a bus to the village to address travel woes of children there.

Residents of Skyland

Again, she held a meeting with the residents there, including the senior councillor of the satellite village and the toshao and councillors of Waramuri.

Minister Sukhai explained that the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) is back on stream and urged the village to get on board with the project.

She also encouraged the villagers to find creative ways for wealth creation.

“Just like a government, you were elected to work in the best interest of your village. And you must find ways to create employment for your villagers, so they don’t have to go far out the village in a backdam to work. You have vast lands here, you must utilise it, to improve the economy of the village,” Minister Sukhai said.