Gov’t to reinstate hinterland Community Support Officers programme
DPI, Guyana, Saturday, August 15, 2020
Minister of Amerindian Affairs, Hon. Pauline Sukhai, on Saturday, announced that the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government will be re-establishing the Community Support Officers (CSOs) Programme.
This is an initiative aimed at developing young Amerindians in the various villages and communities through the creation of job opportunities and building capacity and strengthening their individual interests and skills.
Speaking at a virtual press briefing, Minister Sukhai said the Amerindian communities can expect the programme to get back on track by the end of the year.
“That is something we are working on right now and are hopeful that the preparation will take off expeditiously and before the end of the year we may be able to address some communities that are ready to adopt the programme.”
Given the COVID-19 restrictions, Minister Sukhai explained that specific areas will be targeted in the initial stages of the programme.
“We will see before the end of the year, attention being paid to prepare those villages to get back on track through the engagement of young people to support community development,” she emphasised.
The CSOs engagement was launched in 2014, under the Youth Entrepreneurship and Apprenticeship Programme (YEAP). It targeted some 2,000 youth between the ages of 16-40 in Regions 1, 7, 8 and 9.
YEAP was part of the then PPP/C Government’s commitment to youth development and advancement, and investment in the lives of the Indigenous People.
The reintroduction of this programme will replace the Hinterland Employment and Youth Service (HEYS) programme, which was introduced by the former APNU+AFC Coalition Administration, which came to a halt in 2019.
When the new PPP/C Administration assumed office earlier this month, it found that while there were a few successful businesses under the HEYS programme, however, the overall objective of the programme was not being realised.
“There are few successful entrepreneurial initiatives that survived but, in the majority, we found that the funds invested in this project have not been a success,” the Minister relayed.
She explained that the unit established under this programme was not active for the past year. Staff members were reporting to work every day but were not engaged in any work. There was no work plan, no approved budget.
“This unit had no provisions, and they continued the unit and staff turned out every day to work. It was only in June 2020 that the Ministry received approval for payments to be made, to the staff, through the tender board for the unit; to be paid under the line item in the budget referred to as ‘other’.
Minister Sukhai reiterated the PPP/C Government’s commitment to improving the lives of the Indigenous Peoples through enterprise, entrepreneurship, and job opportunities.