Over $50B invested in Amerindian development in two years – President Ali
The PPP/C Government has invested more than $50 billion in the advancement of Amerindians over the last two years, to improve health and education delivery, water access, community infrastructure, agricultural support, tourism, youth training, ICT support, and social assistance.
His Excellency, Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali made this revelation while delivering the feature address at the opening ceremony of the National Toshaos Council Conference at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (NTC), Liliendaal, Greater Georgetown on Monday.
The head of state noted that the investments are part of the government’s master plan to ensure Amerindians are incorporated into the mainstream of Guyana’s national development trajectory.
“If you look at that as a percentage of what was invested between 2015 and 2020, you will be mesmerised…and then you can make a determination as to who has your interest and your communities’ interest,” President Ali pointed out while detailing the investments in the various sectors between August 2020 to date.
In the last two years, the government increased potable water coverage in hinterland communities from 46 to 63 per cent. The target is to increase coverage by 75 per cent by the end of the year.
Twenty new water distribution systems were completed to date, with 30 more wells slated for completion by year-end.
“Our plan is that by 2025, we must have 100 per cent access to safe and clean water by every single Amerindian community,” he stated.
By the end of 2022, agriculture support for hinterland communities will see an injection of more than $2 billion.
One of the many initiatives embarked on over the past two years to advance food production in the hinterland, is the delivery of tractors/trailers and implements to villages. Significant work was also done to improve the agriculture infrastructure in villages, and provide technical and other support in order to make them food secure.
“We are going to invest in research and development to see what is best for every single community, and you have to help us here at this conference. Let us identify one item that we will work with the government on. Let us identify food security and come up with a hinterland food security plan that we will invest in,” he told the leaders.
Health and education delivery
President Ali said some $13 billion was invested to improve healthcare delivery in the hinterland and riverine communities. Primarily, the focus was on ensuring that healthcare facilities are upgraded and extended to provide quality services to the people and to ensure adequate drugs are available in all regions. Hundreds of community health workers were trained to man those facilities.
The President said that the government is looking at a ‘smart’ approach to healthcare delivery through the use of telemedicine. This will be boosted by the ICT programme being implemented across the hinterland through the Office of the Prime Minister.
Significant investments were also made in the education sector to ensure schools are adequately outfitted to provide quality education to the students. The $25,000 ‘Because We Care’ grant per child, has seen almost $2 billion going into the hands of parents in the hinterland and riverine communities.
Through the Ministry of Human Services and Social Security, 5,600 are benefiting from old-age pension while almost $1 billion in public assistance was also distributed to vulnerable persons.
Additionally, more than 1,200 empowerment grants were provided to small business owners in the hinterland, while a number of women received training through the WIIN programme.
President Ali also assured the Amerindian leaders that the revenues from the oil and gas sector will be used to advance their livelihood, through investments in projects that will lead to their communities’ economic development.
This year’s NTC conference is being held under the theme ‘Good Governance and Fast-tracking Amerindian Development.’ Prime Minister, Hon. Brigadier (Ret’d) Mark Phillips, Vice President, Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo, Minister of Amerindian Affairs, Pauline Sukhai, M.P and other Ministers of Government and members of the diplomatic corps were present at the opening of the NTC.