Gov’t plugs $58M into eight Region Seven Amerindian communities

Minister Teixeira urge leaders to ensure transparency in projects

Government has plugged $58 million into eight Amerindian communities in Region Seven to foster development and cushion the effects of the Covid pandemic. The sums were provided under the Government’s $1.73 billion COVID 19 relief fund through the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs.

Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Governance, Hon. Gail Teixeira and a team including Member of Parliament, Hon. Lee Williams handed over the money in Region Seven today.

The money was presented to Kartabo, Itaballi, Karrau Creek, Batavia, Kangaruma, Tassarene, Isseneru and Kurutuku. River’s View, Region 10 also received their grant today.

“Your communities have the power to decide what to do with the grants… but we need to tell you that this money must be used in the best interest of the people,” Minister Teixeira told the leaders.

The Minister encouraged them to meet the residents and host open discussions to determine how best the money could be spent to develop the community. Minister Teixeira reminded the leaders that there must be transparency and accountability.

“We are not going to interfere with your concept. When you put up your concept saying this is what you are doing and this is what it will cost, that is your business. What you are going to have to answer for is accountability, that when you get the $5 million or $10 million it is accountable,” she said.

Some of the funds are to be used to create a space for Information and Communication Technology hubs and for an income generating project to mitigate the hardships faced by residents.  The overall objective is to create opportunities for better livelihoods, young people and to enhance village infrastructure.

Chairperson of Itaballi Community Development Council, Ms. Coleen Singh said it is the first time the community had received such a huge grant. She said the $10 million grant was a pleasant surprise and it would be used to provide a better life for villagers.

“With this grant, we are going to be furnishing our ICT Hub. We already have a building already wired so we are going to be furnishing it. We are going to be fencing our community ground so it can better serve our young people. There are several other things we would like to do with it, but we have to discuss in a community meeting,” Ms. Singh said.

Batavia also received $10 million. Toshao, Mr. Orin Williams said the money would go a far way in reviving the village, which was hit hard by the pandemic. Mr. Williams said it would help to create jobs in the village by improving the way they do logging.

“We normally use chainsaw and we know that the chainsaw utilises a lot of the wood because the saw is quarter inch. We intend to purchase a wood-miser where we can get more produce, more lumber so this money we would be able to get one of those machines purchased,” he said.

Toshao of Kurutuku, Mr. Timothy Lewis said he appreciates what the Government is doing for the Amerindian communities. His community received a $10 million grant.

“This is the first time Kurutuku is getting help from a Government. Since this village was established, very little was given to us from all Government. Now this PPP Government has come into power once again, so I appreciate it and am very much happy for this grant and I look forward to cooperation. We want development, we want to move forward with this Government,” the Toshao said.

The relief fund complements other measures implemented by President Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali, since taking office. In the 2020 Emergency Budget, the President made provisions for the $4.5 billion COVID-19 relief cash grant which would see every household receiving $25,000 to cushion the effects of the pandemic.  Additionally, $1.8 billion was allocated from the emergency budget to provide hampers to households.