Youth development projects for Amerindian communities

Guyana Chronicle
July 28, 2000

PRESIDENT Bharrat Jagdeo visited the Upper Mazaruni yesterday urging greater partnership between his government and Amerindians.

His call came at a rally at Waramadong attended by Captains of Amerindian communities of the Upper Mazaruni and hundreds of settlers from Kamarang, Parima and neighbouring communities in Region Seven.

Mr Jagdeo reassured villagers of his administration's firm commitment to closing the development gap between coastal regions and Amerindian communities.

In this regard, he announced $1M each for nine Amerindian communities in the Upper Mazaruni for youth development projects which young Amerindians will identify.

The President also urged the Region Seven administration to speed up completion of the Kamarang-Waramadong road with the $5M Central Government has provided.

When the road is completed he would make available to the Kamarang administration a tractor and trailer, he announced.

The President travelled by aircraft and boat into the region and told residents he and his ministers are going across the country talking to people with a view to addressing their needs and concerns.

Reaffirming the government's policy to ensure equal opportunities and development for Amerindians, he recalled the significant increase in budgetary allocations for Region Seven compared with previous years.

Mr Jagdeo made it clear that development of Amerindian communities was as important as in other areas, adding, "We are all equals."

Much emphasis was and is being placed on education, he said, pointing to the establishment of secondary schools at Waramadong and Annai in Region Nine.

He also referred to scholarships awarded to Amerindian students at the President's College on the East Coast Demerara and pointed out that a $46M school was being constructed at Phillipai.

Greater emphasis, President Jagdeo said, was being placed on training Amerindians as teachers, forest rangers, health workers, administrators and police officers.

Referring to the current Amerindian land demarcation exercise, the President reminded the large and enthusiastic gathering that the exercise is being carried out in two phases.

The first is to demarcate areas identified since 1969, and the second will address requests for additional land, he said.

He noted it was the current government that created the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs and set up a Fund for Amerindian Development which receives more than $60M annually from Central Government.

The President pointed to the many projects aimed at accelerating Amerindian development and to "reverse the neglect" of the main Opposition People's National Congress (PNC) when it was in government.

Acknowledging there were outstanding issues and needs, Mr Jagdeo said these will be tackled but in keeping with the ability of the state.

He briefed the gathering on the local and external challenges his administration faced but said partnership will mean faster progress.

"Our country has a great task is to bring a better life for all our people...Every single Guyanese has an equal space in this country," he declared to loud applause.

Amerindian Affairs Minister, Mr Vibert DeSouza and Local Government Minister, Mr Harripersaud Nokta also spoke at the rally.

Nokta noted that President Jagdeo was continuing the work of the late President Cheddi Jagan to give equal priority to Amerindian development.

DeSouza, who was in the Upper Mazaruni earlier for a Captains Conference before the rally, said the Amerindian leaders appreciated President Jagdeo's visit.

After the rally, the President toured the newly-completed Waramadong secondary and primary schools and met settlers who used the opportunity to thank the President for his visit and expressed full support for his efforts to improve the lives of all Guyanese.

Business people from Kamarang met Mr Jagdeo and Nokta to discuss accelerating economic development in the region. A main concern of the business people was the high cost of transporting goods and supplies to the region.

The President said the government had already lowered the consumption tax on aviation fuel from 40 per cent to 10 per cent to bring down the cost of domestic air transportation.

He, however, promised to meet private aircraft operators and owners to discuss the concerns raised. (Office of the President)

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