Govt not interfering, trying to control Toshaos Conference – AG
The People’s Progressive Party/ Civic (PPP/C) government is not interfering or controlling the proceedings of the National Toshaos Council (NTC) Conference which wrapped up on Friday at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre.
This was made clear by Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall S.C.
Speaking on his weekly programme “Issues in the News”, Nandlall noted this is a baseless accusation that is being levelled by letter writers, and opposition politicians.
According to Minister Nandlall, the intention is to cause a distraction and take the public’s attention away from the progress made by government officials, mostly the ministers in addressing the issues and concerns of the Amerindian leaders.
He insisted that it was the PPP/C Government that successfully piloted the historic Amerindian Act of 1996 in the National Assembly, and fought for Amerindian Rights.
The minister said the government has allowed the Toshaos unprecedented access to its entire Cabinet, and the President, Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali.
The Attorney General said, “We are not interfering. We are there to facilitate…help the Amerindian communities to address their various issues, yet as we try to do that, we face the accusation that we areattempting to take over and control the conference. [It’s] nothing of the sort.”
Minister Nandlall said that the government ministers’ only intention is to dialogue with the leaders, and listen to their respective concerns with the aim of dealing with each issue.
Additionally, he pointed out that the Government decided to hold the conference this year as soon as the COVID-19 pandemic was under control, and the economy was fully reopened.
He reasoned that if the government did not have the conference or participate in the proceedings, then the public would be hearing a different tune from the letter writers and opposition politicians.
Minister Nandlall said also there would be accusations that the PPP/C neglected the leaders or worse, they abandoned the Amerindians.
“So, whether you do or don’t you get blame,” the Attorney General argued.
Meanwhile, the Attorney General said he is glad the Toshaos know better than to worry with the propogandists and intellectual authors of the opposition campaign.
He noted that Amerindians were so badly treated by the APNU/AFC Administration not so long ago that they are very happy with the return of the PPP/C Administration.
Minister Nandlall said the APNU+AFC Administration had treated the Indigenous Peoples at “arm’s-length”.
“The people used to leave the government’s NTC, and come to the leader of the opposition’s office to engage with us. The reason why, because they never felt comfortable. They were never treated with dignity and respect…and that is why they voted for us…”, Nandlall reported.
He pointed to the gamut of investments made by the various PPP/C Administrations, but not before he mentioned those made by the current Administration.
“We have spent since we have gone into government from August, 2020 to now, over $50B in Amerindian communities…You can do a comparative analysis with any given two-year period under the previous administration, and you will see that we have spent many times more than that government would have spent,” he advised.
Nandlall said that the PPP/C Administration would never sit down in Georgetown and make laws for the Amerindians without first consulting them.
He addressed the Amerindians’ issues that included the many disputes with miners, land and demarcation, and other legal matters.
The NTC brings together Amerindian leaders from over 212 hinterland communities across the country. It’s a platform where the leaders can engage the government and other stakeholders on issues pertaining to the development of their communities.
This year, the conference was held under the theme, “Good Governance and Fast-Tracking Amerindian Development”.
There were presentations and discussions held related to Agriculture, Tourism, Amerindian development, Crime and Security, Natural Resources, the Low Carbon Development Strategy, and Social Services, among others.