Moraikobai residents raise concerns with Minister Allicock
GUYANA, GINA, Tuesday, May 16, 2017
Residents of Moraikobai, the only indigenous community located in Region Five, were afforded the opportunity to raise concerns with Vice-President and Minister of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, Sydney Allicock who visited the community last weekend.
During a meeting with residents, Minister Allicock reminded them that they were not forgotten, adding that the government is working assiduously to foster development within hinterland communities.
Minister Allicock told residents that the government is currently crafting a development master plan. This includes providing proper infrastructure, education, healthcare and other pivotal social services. However, the Minister said that for that to become a reality, the people need to be involved advising, they should view the government as partners in development.
“We will not come to dictate to you what your needs are, we come to discuss with you, listen to you and try to find ways and means of finding answers to the many issues. We are going to attack the issues together,” Minister Allicock explained.
The Minister then listened to the residents’ concerns which were many. One of the issues raised was the need for internet access. Residents pointed out that last year; the sum of $1.5 million was proposed for the start-up of the project however, they were advised to undertake another project.
Minister Allicock noted that the money for the project is still available at the Ministry. However, the residents were advised that once the project is up and running, it needs to be maintained which will take the effort of the entire community
The Minister suggested to the residents that if “…each one of you every month pay one thousand dollars, that’s one hundred thousand dollars, so your level of bandwidth, you could pay probably up to sixty thousand dollars a month… and I am quite certain you could make that… This is the type of investment you need because what will happen now, your children right here would be able to have access to information.”
Apart from providing school children with necessary information, Minister Allicock said that an internet connection will help develop the community’s tourism efforts, something they have been venturing into. “You would have access to the tourism body to know how they could sell the package on the internet… that is knowledge and knowledge is power and the means is by the internet, then we would know what is happening in the other part of this world,” the Minister stated.
Other issues raised relate to taxes owed by the community for royalties. The community currently owes the Guyana Forestry Commission
$2M and asked for the intervention of the Ministry in clearing the debt. Minister Allicock expressed disappointment with the community for not making value added products which would be more profitable and also for not making sure that their taxes are up-to-date.
“It is something that you are getting all the profits, you have nobody to pay, but yourself. It is village council’s property and you need to pay your taxes,” the Minister admonished. The Minister advised members of the village council to take strict action against those who refuse to pay royalties.
Despite his dissatisfaction, Minister Allicock donated a sum to help offset the debt. “I am offering $200,000 to support what you are doing and you could get this next week.”
Other issues relating to health, education and transportation were also raised by the residents and the Minister assured that their concerns will be taken to the relevant authorities.
By: Isaiah Braithwaite