Amerindians told lofty promises and sold candy dreams for the last 5 years – Min. Edghill

PPP/C Government more committed to the prosperity of Amerindians
will redouble efforts for their economic and social development
Millions set aside for support in Budget 2020
Amerindian youths of Region Nine

Budget 2020 heralds the return of several specially designed Hinterland Development programmes and socio –economic initiatives tailored to improve the wellbeing of Amerindians.

On Wednesday, Minister of Public Works, Hon. Bishop Juan Edghill in presenting the budget detailed the allocation, amounting to millions of dollars that will go towards supporting Amerindians in the areas of food security, youth development, student welfare, women’s initiatives, agriculture and eco-tourism. There are also grant monies to fund social and productive micro projects.

Minister Edghill said that the Amerindians will benefit from the tangible delivery of projects and initiatives, unlike what was experienced in the last five years.

“Our first peoples in Guyana, for the last 5 years, were told of lofty promises and sold candy dreams but with no delivery. More jobs, improved healthcare, more access to education and acceleration of the land titling programme were among them. The reality is, from 2015-2020 there was the dismantling of the Community Service Officers (CSOs) programme putting almost 2,000 young Amerindians out of work, the stymieing of the Amerindian Land Titling Unit and the removal of resources previously earmarked for the development of their communities, such as for 6,000 household solar panel systems,” Minister Edghill reminded.

$800Million has been allocated to the Amerindian Development Fund (ADF) in Budget 2020 to fund economic projects in Amerindian villages and to restart the CSO programme.

$300Million of the provision for ADF covers the purchase of tractors and accessories to incentivise agricultural economic activity within Amerindian communities.

Further to this, the Public Works Minister explained that government will be recommencing support for women in entrepreneurial initiatives such as sewing, in an attempt to increase their self-sufficiency and bolster their economic independence.

To support the effective governance, an initial $10Million has been set aside to commencing the design of a new head office for the National Toshao Council.

The Information and Communications Technology (ICT) hub programme will also be re-introduced to 26 Amerindian communities. Government has also committed to the provision of 25,000 household solar photovoltaic units. This particular energy intervention will be rolled out in a phased manner.

Over $800 million was set aside for the Hinterland Roads Programme which will address construction and rehabilitation of roads across Regions 1, 7, 8, 9 and 10. To complement these construction works, VAT on travel to the hinterland will be removed.

These initiatives will serve to stimulate economic activity, incentivising our own Guyanese to explore our beautiful country beyond just the coastland, for both business and leisure,” Minister Edghill explained.

Additionally, the resumption of the Amerindian Land Titling programme will ensure the rights of Amerindians are, once again, protected.

Amerindian communities will also be benefiting from the COVID-19 cash assistance announced by the Government – about 19,000 Amerindian households are expected to benefit from the $25,000 cash transfer, with an allocation of about $475 million.

Meanwhile, the students of the hinterland will also continue to be provided with school uniform assistance.