Presidential grants to be increased

Minister of Amerindian Affairs, Hon. Pauline Sukhai with Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly and Advisor to the Government of Civil Aviation, Mr. Lenox Shuman

The Presidential Grant fund, which Amerindian villages benefit from annually to pursue sustainable village projects, is to be increased. This was announced by Minister of Amerindian Affairs, Hon. Pauline Sukhai during a meeting with Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly and Advisor to the Government on Civil Aviation, Mr. Lenox Shuman, on Friday.

Minister Sukhai was at the time updating Mr. Shuman on some of the programmes and policies being pursued by the Government to improve the living standard of Amerindians in Guyana.

The Presidential Grant programme, which started under the PPP/C Administration in 2007, is one of the major interventions undertaken to boost economic and social development for the Amerindians in their respective communities. Villages and communities currently receive between $500,000 to $2,000,000 based on their population size.

Projects supported under the grant include the procurement of boats, engines, buses, tractors and trailers and All-Terrain Vehicles (ATVs). It also covers agricultural enterprises such as cattle and chicken poultry rearing, cash crop farming and tourism ventures inclusive of the construction of guesthouses, eco-lodges and benabs. The construction of pavilions, multi-purpose halls, village offices, village shops, roads, trails, bridges and revetments are also funded under the grant.

The Minister expressed disappointment that the grant was not increased over the last five years by the former administration.

“We have applied for it to be increased, five years and they haven’t increased it. Normally we would increase presidential grant periodically so we have put in for an increase,” the minister said.

Minister Sukhai also stressed that the aim going forward, is to ensure these grants are delivered to villages in a timely manner and that all the villages receive their grants within the prescribed year.

“They even allowed presidential grants to go back, so when we are giving 215 grants, if 100 grants make it out for the year, 115 goes back into the consolidated fund and they can’t get it back. I have to change that to ensure that all 215 within the year gets their presidential grant so that they can have some form of investment fund small as it is, to generate some happiness among themselves and manage a successful project.”

Mr. Shuman commended this move and committed to working with the government and specifically the Amerindian Affairs Ministry to develop the lives of Guyana’s first peoples.

Among other areas discussed was the Amerindian Land Titling and Demarcation Programme, and the reintroduction of the Community Support Officers programme, the laptop programme and the household solar panel programme.