– say committee has never been a subject of Government
CHAIRPERSON of the National Toshaos Council (NTC) Ms. Yvonne Pearson is calling on Opposition parties and the private media to apologise to the committee for statements made, which accused the committee of being a ‘tool’ of the Government. While refuting such claims, Pearson said the committee’s members have, over the years, never subjected themselves to the call of the PPP/C Government, but rather has spoken in the best interest of Indigenous peoples. She was at the time addressing members of the media during a press conference at the Amerindian Affairs Ministry.
“We the members of the Committee are appalled at negative statements made by sections of the media. We have never been and are not a tool of the Government, but have worked extremely hard, for the betterment of our Indigenous people,” she said.
While adding that the NTC has never been a non-governmental organisation (NGO), Pearson said that oftentimes people call for the committee to be more independent. However, she said while efforts are apace to reach to this level, “nothing happens overnight.”
She expressed her disappointment over a news article that quoted some Toshaos as saying that they were unable to voice their concerns and, as such, refused to sign on to the resolution.
Pearson noted that several attempts were made by President Jagdeo for Toshaos who felt they were discriminated against to speak out. The majority of Toshaos signed the document that calls for fast-tracking of Norway funds.
“His Excellency,President Jagdeo, asked Toshaos several times yesterday (July 29), if they felt they were discriminated against and had not been given a chance to speak and not a single one got up and acknowledged such a statement but rather, refuted,” she said.
During the fifth day of the National Toshaos Council meeting held over the course of last week, President Bharrat Jageo appealed to Amerindian leaders to voice their concerns if they were indeed discriminated against, or write their request and submit them to the Permanent Secretary of the Amerindian Affairs Ministry if they were too shy to publicly speak.
Never had Toshaos acknowledged that they were disadvantaged, but rather lauded the government for support given over the years, in developing their communities, through education, water, agriculture, roads and land ownership.
The Chairperson said that while issues were raised with respect to development, the number of concerns was minimal, since several requests made during the 2010 conference were fulfilled.
She said that several land issues were addressed, despite not having the capacity to be settled overnight. However, many Toshaos were satisfied by decisions made by government, to ensure that they are not denied their constitutional rights to land-ownership.
The Guyana Forestry Commission and Lands and Surveys Commission, during the conference, addressed several issues with respect to village borders.
However, Pearson said that while 33 communities are left to be demarcated based on request, the release of the Norway fund can accelerate the entire process.
“Every community that identified programmes to be developed under the Community Development Plan will benefit from the Norway funds, hence the reason the NTC is calling for the speedy release of the funds.
According to the Government Information Agency (GINA), the NTC Chairman also refuted claims made by the media, which stated that Toshaos were forced to sign the resolution.
Several Amerindian leaders, who were also present at the press conference on Saturday, condemned the actions of the few Toshaos who, despite being granted their requests by government, allowed themselves to be misled by detractors, who want to stymie development.
The fifth NTC meeting, held under the theme ‘Consolidating and Expanding Frontiers for Amerindian Development’, at the Guyana International Conference Centre over the period July 25-29, allowed Toshaos to interact with President Jagdeo, Government Ministers and others on issues pertaining to their community development.