‘We will respect, honour your views’ – President Ali tells Amerindian leaders
– As NTC conference 2023 opens
President Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali has stressed the importance of collaboration between the government and the National Toshaos Council (NTC), noting that the synergy is a steadfast principle that will guide their shared journey towards the upliftment of the Amerindian people.
Dr. Ali said the voice, ideas, and recommendations put forth by the Indigenous peoples of Guyana must be acknowledged, deeply respected, and honoured.
He was at the time addressing a large gathering of Amerindian leaders during the opening ceremony of the NTC Conference 2023, at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (ACCC), Liliendaal.
“Our philosophy is an unchanging philosophy when it comes to our Amerindian brothers and sisters…It was one of respect, one of honour, one in which we have never faltered from our responsibility investing in you and your communities, and you must not take that for granted,” the head of state underscored.
He made it clear that, unlike the previous APNU+AFC Government, this administration has been successful in accomplishing nearly all the manifesto commitments made to the Amerindian population within a mere three years.
Further, he emphasised the ongoing endeavours aimed at advancing the well-being and progress of the residents within these communities.
“Every single thing we have done with our Amerindian brothers and sisters was done in consultation with you, was done with your voice, taking into consideration your ideas [and] your thoughts. And I must say that the representation and the participation from our Amerindian brothers and sisters in the villages and communities have been enormous, and we welcome this…because we believe with greater participation, there will be greater understanding,” Dr. Ali asserted.
In the last three years alone, the government injected some $50 billion in capital expenditure in hinterland and riverine communities, ensuring that residents there benefit equitably.
Accordingly, the administration spent billions of dollars in elevating the lives of senior citizens in Amerindian communities. This year, some $2.2 billion has been allocated for the elderly and over 6,000 persons are expected to benefit.
Almost 5,000 persons are now benefitting from public assistance, amounting to $1 billion being exhausted this year.
Following intense consultation between policymakers and village representatives, over $2 billion was invested to finance several community development plans, and a total of 4,500 jobs were created through this effort.
To date, more than 1,000 projects are being implemented across the hinterland and riverine communities. Likewise, infrastructure development is ensuring that tourism is a critical component for the advancement of Amerindian communities.
As the government moves towards expanding the hospitality industry, President Ali pointed out that scores of persons from the indigenous population will also play an integral role.
He said even in the housing sector, there is close to $300 million of supplies including blocks being generated from those communities to further drive the administration’s housing agenda.
“You are now contributing significantly to the delivery of goods and services to the government. In many communities, you are now building blocks [and] cutting timber for the government. You’re producing food items for different institutions in government. You’re building homes and furniture for schools,” the head of state emphasised.
He reminded that as part of the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) 2030, some 15 per cent of the funds from the sale of carbon credits will go towards the Indigenous people, noting that more than $4.7 billion has been transferred to date.
Meanwhile, the government has invested close to $3 billion in improving the water supply in hinterland and riverine communities, establishing more than 40 new wells in the process.
Additionally, many lives have been saved with the implementation of about 18 telemedicine sites in the hinterland and riverine communities, which allow medical workers in those far-flung areas to communicate effectively with specialists in the capital city to provide better health care.
President Ali said while the government has made significant strides in all sectors, it is cognisant that there is more to be achieved.
To this end, he noted that technical officers from the various ministries including permanent secretaries will attend the daily sessions, to listen to the concerns of the village leaders and their reports will be presented on Friday.
The NTC Conference runs from August 28 to September 1, under the theme: ‘Advancing sustainable village development in a low carbon economy.’