Coalition fails in bid to cut $825.2M in Amerindian projects from Budget

─32 – 25 votes split

A futile attempt by the APNU+AFC Members of Parliament (MP) to cut Budget 2020 was swiftly thwarted by Government MPs who vigorously defended the allocations set aside to enhance the lives of the nation’s First Peoples.

The move came during the Consideration of Estimates in the National Assembly on Tuesday.   

“As we are still celebrating Amerindian Heritage Month, it is indeed a travesty that the APNU-AFC Members of Parliament can vote against $825.5 million intended to bring relief to the Amerindian residents and villagers – a relief that is actually needed because over five years the APNU-AFC government has stifled the growth and development of Amerindians,” Minister of Amerindian Affairs, Hon. Pauline Sukhai  told the Department of Public Information.  

The sums were allotted to the Ministry’s Policy and Development, Administration, and the Community Development and Empowerment programmes.

Government MPs stood their ground with 32 votes after Opposition MP Ganesh Mahipaul said called for a division of the votes and indicated to Chairman of the Committee of Supply, Hon. Manzoor Nadir that there should be a roll call.

On the Opposition side, 25 MPs voted to cut the Amerindian Affairs budget, while two abstained.

Minister Sukhai chastised the Opposition for their failed attempt to set back the advancement of Amerindians under Budget 2020.

“[The Opposition] has gone full force to stifle, to deny and to destroy development for Amerindians under a PPP/C Government. They are vindictive because they feel that they did not get the majority of votes,” Minister Sukhai asserted.

According to the Minister, the move by the Opposition was akin to the Budget cuts in 2011 and 2013 against the hinterland and airstrip projects and the Amerindian Development Fund, respectively.

Government Parliamentarian Hon. Yvonne Fredericks expressed similar sentiments, saying that the Government would pursue its mandate to enhance the living standards of Amerindians.

“We have always looked after the wellbeing and the welfare of the Amerindian people and we will continue to do that,” MP Fredricks said.

Parliamentary Secretary at the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs, Hon. Sarah Browne, said the Opposition’s vote was disappointing. She also recalled being among the protesters in 2013 who called out the then APNU-AFC Opposition for slashing the $300M budget of the Amerindian Development Fund.

Meanwhile, Cuyuni-Mazaruni (Region Seven) Government MP, Hon. Lee Williams said the administration intends to “fight to the end so that we can benefit from these projects for Amerindian development.”

MPs Hon. Dr. Tandeka Smith and Hon. Allister Charlie also condemned the Opposition’s actions.  “Every sober-minded Guyanese [must] understand that we have an Opposition in Parliament that is callous, that is very vindictive,” MP Charlie said.

Below is a list of some of the projects that were retained following the attempted Budget cuts.

Outboard Engines$6,200,000
Re-Launch of Youth Entrepreneurship & Apprenticeship Programme.$68,400,000
Presidential Grants$285,000,000
Economic Projects$42,000,000
Women’s Group Project$6,900,000
Sewing Machines$6,300,000
Tractor and Implements$121,126,100
ICT Hubs (26 Villages)$26,000,000
Chain Saws (2 per Village)$4,400,000
Village Infrastructural Development$5,000,000
Generator Set$5,700,000
Musical Instruments$7,000,000
Radio Sets$5,900,000
Solar Systems$14,880,000
Upgrading of Trail/Road (Farm to Market)$24,762,000  
Farm Irrigation System and Rain Water Harvesting$8,587,000  
Construction of Village Office$12,000,000

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