The National Toshaos’ Council (NTC) has expressed disappointment that Amerindian communities will not be able to execute much needed developmental projects this year because of the non-issuance of Presidential grants.
At a recent press conference, Mainstay/ Whyaka Toshao, Paul Fredericks, related that the 160 Amerindian leaders, who attended this year’s National Toshaos’ Conference were expecting to return to their communities with Presidential grants. These grants are used to fund economic ventures such as agriculture, purchase of boats and engines, and the establishment of village shops.
It has been pointed out that the slashing of this year’s national budget for the Office of the President by the Opposition has prevented Government from embarking on this programme. According to Amerindian Affairs Minister, Pauline Sukhai, annually Government gives Amerindian communities over $360M.
Even with this setback, Amerindian communities will soon be receiving funds, under the Guyana REDD Investment Fund (GRIF) to execute long-term developmental projects.
The Guyana REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) Investment Fund –GRIF, was established in October 2010 as the mechanism through which Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) projects will be funded.
Government recently signed the disbursement agreement for the implementation of the Amerindian Development Fund with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
According to NTC Chairperson, Derrick John, the Council is hoping that this programme be implemented soon but the pilot communities have not been identified as yet. He explained that depending on the various projects outlined in the Community Development Plans, villages will be chosen so as to avoid redundancy in the pilot stage.
Some projects earmarked in the plans include agriculture, tourism, and wood cutting.
Cognizant that there is need for proper accountability in some Amerindian communities, the NTC has committed to helping weak communities streamline their record-keeping before the projects are implemented.
John said that the NTC is not denying that there are some areas that have issues with accountability. He assured that the NTC will work with weak villages to improve accountability, as well as record keeping. At the recent conference, leaders were given a crash course on record keeping. It was suggested that a more in-depth course be provided for this purpose.
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