Raphael Trotman, Minister of Natural Resources, appeared before the Commission of Inquiry into the conditions and circumstances facing veterans of the Guyana Defense Force, Guyana People’s Militia, and the Guyana National Service.
The idea of this Commission took root on November 21, 2013 when a Motion calling for the establishment of a Commission to inquire into the conditions and circumstances facing Veterans, was approved by the National Assembly, Trotman said.
Trotman added that the Motion was not acted upon by the then Government.
Trotman explained that it is his personal view that service to one’s country is the highest and most important form of service. When that service involves protecting and advancing the values, ideals, symbols and patrimony of the state and people then it is to be treasured and set apart for the highest commendation.
It is selfless and sacrificial service that must be respected and rewarded. Trotman said theirs is a duty beyond earning a mere salary, it is a hallowed trust, one that is bestowed when we place our confidence in the armed forces to secure Guyana’s borders to protect and serve; to punish and rehabilitate offenders; and to rescue us from other calamities.
The Minister shared some possible perspectives on how the Ministry of Natural Resources could support.
“The protectors and defenders of the national patrimony must be given an inheritance or parts of that patrimony. It may be land that is either in housing, mining, farming or forestry.”
The Minister highlighted the group in Trinidad and Tobago known as the ‘Merikins’. Noting that as a means of both ensuring access to resources to veterans and for ensuring beneficial occupation of territory, persons may be assigned lands for settlements based on Company or Corps structure.
It was noted that 20 per cent of royalties collected from mining within Amerindian titled villages is set aside. He proposed for consideration that a percentage of royalties earned from the sector be transferred to the Treasury for addition to Veterans’ pensions.
For those who are fit to work after the legal age of retirement, the Minister said the Natural Resources Sector has specialized opportunities for wardens and compliance officers.
These officers, he said, can address illegal mining and environmental degradation; interdiction and prevention of smuggling of gold, diamonds, wildlife and plants, and enforcement of laws and regulations.
Trotman said that he felt honoured to have been invited to appear before the Commission – not only to share views and perspectives on the subject at hand, but also to submit myself, as representative of a major stakeholder in the national development architecture.
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