Bud­get 2018: No real sup­port for Amerindian devel­op­ment – Pauline Sukhai

Weekend Mirror - - EDITORIAL -

For­mer

Min­is­ter of Amerindian Af­fairs, Pauline Sukhai, has blasted the gov­ern­ment’s 2018 bud­get for not in­clud­ing “real sup­port for Amerindian devel­op­ment” as it did not fo­cus on cru­cial is­sues of job cre­ation and new projects

Ms. Sukhai stated, in com­ments just af­ter the bud­get was pre­sented: “If this is all that is be­ing of­fered in the Bud­get 2018, for me it’s a dis­ap­point­ment. It’s pa­thetic and it shows no real sup­port for Indige­nous or Amerindian devel­op­ment, much less bridg­ing the gap be­tween the hin­ter­land and the coastal re­gion. Job cre­ation should have been the ma­jor hall­mark and new projects should have been cre­ated and ex­panded.”

The bud­get has made no pro­vi­sion to im­ple­ment some of the things the Pres­i­dent and gov­ern­ment promised Amerindian com­mu­ni­ties.

While Pres­i­dent David Granger has re­peat­edly spo­ken of the need to make ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties more mod­ernised and pro­vide these vil­lages with the same level of op­por­tu­ni­ties avail­able in the coastal re­gion, the Op­po­si­tion be­lieves that Bud­get 2018 does not cater for that ini­tia­tive.

The op­po­si­tion Mem­ber of Par­lia­ment added that Bud­get 2018 did not of­fer any sig­nif­i­cant op­por­tu­ni­ties to bridge the gap be­tween the hin­ter­land and the coast.

She said it was a mere con­tin­u­a­tion of the pro­grammes and ini­tia­tives that were started un­der the PPP/ Civic Ad­min­is­tra­tion to as­sist with Amerindian devel­op­ment.

Sukhai be­lieves that although these pro­grammes were in­her­ited by the Gov­ern­ment, it has been do­ing a fairly bad job at ex­pand­ing and man­ag­ing them ef­fec­tively.

“These pro­grammes had been a dis­mal fail­ure un­der the cur­rent ad­min­is­tra­tion. It’s a fail­ure so much so, that ad­di­tional time and ex­ten­sion had been re­quested to help bring clo­sure to some of these projects,” she ex­plained.

The for­mer Min­is­ter said it, there­fore, begged the ques­tion as to whether there was any se­ri­ous­ness by the coali­tion Gov­ern­ment to en­sure that there was a con­certed ef­fort to in­ject in­vest­ment into the hin­ter­land to en­sure there were pos­i­tive op­por­tu­ni­ties for growth and dev

While not­ing that Bud­get 2018 has in­cluded sums to launch an In­for­ma­tion Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Tech­nol­ogy (ICT) pro­gramme for the hin­ter­land, Sukhai told the media con­fer­ence on Wed­nes­day that the same pro­grammes were pro­posed and ini­ti­ated by the PPP/C Gov­ern­ment.

“We were on track of that pro­posal ex­e­cu­tion to the ex­tent that fa­cil­i­ties were con­structed to house the hard­ware of all the hubs, again which were ex­pected to be com­pleted by 2015…two years later and 2018 Bud­get is still strug­gling to rein­vig­o­rate this pro­gramme,” she posited.

She ar­gued that this was “not good enough” for Indige­nous peo­ple, par­tic­u­larly youths. Sukhai said in an era where ICT was widely used, it was ex­pected that by now many peo­ple in the var­i­ous Amerindian vil­lages across the coun­try would have al­ready ben­e­fited from these fa­cil­i­ties and would be com­puter lit­er­ate.

NOTH­ING NEW

Apart from these con­cerns, the for­mer Min­is­ter also noted that Bud­get 2018 of­fered noth­ing new to the coun­try’s first peo­ple and there was no sig­nif­i­cant sup­port that would be given. She said it was all a con­tin­u­a­tion of pro­grammes that have been there for many years which in­clude the pres­i­den­tial grant, eco-tourism in­cen­tives and farm-to-mar­ket ini­tia­tives.

“This is some­thing that is a con­stant. I had ex­pected that the Bud­get would have brought on board some­thing newer…trans­for­ma­tive ini­tia­tives and move away now from the foun­da­tion which they in­her­ited, to one where there would have been an ac­cel­er­ated ap­proach in terms of in­ject­ing ad­di­tional in­vest­ment to in­duce em­ploy­ment,” she added.

While jobs re­main a ma­jor con­cern for all Guyanese, the hin­ter­land re­gion faces the most is­sues when it comes to this. As such, the for­mer Amerindian Af­fairs Min­is­ter said she was ex­pect­ing the Bud­get to deal with this very crit­i­cal is­sue. She noted, how­ever, that Gov­ern­ment plans to pump more fi­nances into projects that have not been suc­cess­fully im­ple­mented.

She spoke about the cof­fee pro­ject in Santa Rosa, Re­gion One (Barima-Waini), whose im­plemen­tation and ex­e­cu­tion has been a dis­mal fail­ure for two and half years.

“I don’t ex­pect any­thing dif­fer­ent un­der this bud­get… In­vest­ment of rice in Mon­key Moun­tain has been a fail­ure, in­vest­ment of to­mato fac­tory in Para­maka­toi has also been an­other big fail­ure,” she pointed out.

Sukhai con­tin­ued, “If this is all that is be­ing of­fered in the Bud­get 2018, for me it’s a dis­ap­point­ment. It’s pa­thetic and it shows no real sup­port for Indige­nous or Amerindian devel­op­ment, much less bridg­ing the gap be­tween the hin­ter­land and the coastal re­gion. Job cre­ation should have been the ma­jor hall­mark and new projects should have been cre­ated and ex­panded.”

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