British bilateral aid to rise to 6.2M pounds in next cycle
- Baroness Amos

By Miranda La Rose
Stabroek News
February 26, 2000

The British government's bilateral aid programme to Guyana is expected to reach 6.2 million pounds sterling in another three years, British Minister for International Development, Baroness Amos says.

Currently, Guyana is benefiting from 4.5 million pounds sterling in grant aid from the British government in a number of key public sector areas.

The Guyanese-born baroness spoke with reporters during a visit she paid to Help and Shelter, a counselling service, on Homestretch Avenue yesterday while accompanying His Royal Highness, Prince Charles to the NGO headquarters.

Baroness Amos was born in the small village of Dryshore on the Essequibo Coast, seven miles south of Suddie, and lived at Wakenaam with her parents who were teachers before the family migrated to the UK when she was nine years old.

A human rights activist who lobbies for women's equality and the underprivileged, Baroness Amos entered the House of Lords in 1997.

She said that at present, the British Government is Guyana's largest bilateral donor, granting some 4.5 million pounds sterling in aid to this country in the current funding cycle.

In the Caribbean, the second largest recipient of British aid is Jamaica, where Prince Charles will stop next on his three-nation tour to the region. He has already visited Trinidad and Tobago.

In keeping with the British government's commitment to the elimination of poverty, the grant aid which Guyana currently receives goes to the education sector through the Guyana Education Access Project (GEAP), forestry, water and sanitation and public sector reform.

The Department for International Development (DFID) which executes British funding for aid overseas, she said, is very focussed on poverty alleviation, especially in the areas of health and education.

In terms of assistance to public sector reform, the Baroness said that based on a recent visit here by Leif Mills, an official of the British Trades Union Congress, it was recommended that funding be made available for training and retraining in the public sector. She referred to a recommendation for greater dialogue between government and local trades unions which she said was essential.

Speaking generally about British aid, she said that the British government is willing to work with countries that have democratic and transparent governments committed to human rights.

The baroness, who travels to Guyana at least once a year and broke the New Year here with relatives, said that she has great hopes for the land of her birth. She added that it is important that people pull their acts together and work for the common good of the country.

Baroness Amos, the first Black to be granted the title of Baroness, was educated at the University of Warwick and Birmingham and is currently the holder of an honorary professorship from the University of Birmingham. She is due to be conferred with the status of honorary professor by the universities of Warwick and Staffordshire in recognition of work done in terms of social justice, human rights and gender equality in the United Kingdom.