Subventions not the only form of support to the NTC- Mervyn Williams.

DPI, Guyana, Thursday, December 07, 2017.

Advisor to the Minister of Indigenous People’s Affairs Mervyn Williams has responded to the allegation that the government’s allocated $16M subvention to the National Toshaos Council (NTC) is inadequate.

Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, Ministerial Advisor, Mervyn Williams.

Williams in an interview with the Department of Public Information (DPI) on the sidelines of the Budget 2018 debates, noted that the subvention is not the only form of support the government makes to the NTC. He highlighted travel expenses for various meetings and the administration’s gift of a plot of land, in the heart of the city for the establishment of a Secretariat, as among the other support given to the indigenous body.

Further he explained, “One state agency has already come on board and has indicated its interest in constructing or funding the construction; either in large measure or in total, of the NTC Secretariat. Surely that must come at some significant value as well. So, to suggest that the government of Guyana does not care, is to me, very unfortunate.”

He noted that when the NTC was established in 2010 it benefitted from a subvention of $2.5Ms which later increased to 12 million. It was under the current administration that the allocation increased to $16M, Williams pointed out.

He further disclosed that efforts to support the NTC in hosting consultations regarding the strengthening of the Amerindian act were unsuccessful.

“The government values the work of the NTC, understands clearly its charter, but one wonders whether the current executive of the NTC fully appreciates its responsibility. For example, in the two years of its tenure so far it would be interesting to look at the mandate, that is in accordance of the Amerindian act and do an assessment to see what have been the achievements of the NTC,” Williams said.

He mentioned a request made of the NTC by Minister of Indigenous People’s Affairs, Sydney Allicock, for “a menu of recommendations for the strengthening of the Amerindian Act” to be presented to Cabinet, noting that, to date this has not been done.

According to Williams “Whenever the NTC meets, these challenges are put before them. To talk with their constituents, talk with their villages. Help people to understand how the process should take shape and what it will look like. What it is they want to see as an outcome or as a set of outcomes from this thing, but we have gotten absolutely nothing from the NTC.”

“To suggest that some agency other than the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples Affairs, has to take the lead in taking these consultations forward is a misguided position, to suggest that there is no money in the budget 2018 proposed for consultation for strengthening of the Amerindian act is to make a false statement…a statement that is uninformed.” Williams continued.

The Advisor emphasised that $25M were allocated for the furtherance of consultations on the strengthening of the Amerindian Act, therefore, to say that no monies were allocated is ‘erroneous’.

Williams believes that the Ministry has a good working relationship with the NTC and if information was needed it should have been sought at the ministry.

 

By: Natasha Smith

 

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