VICE PRESIDENT and Minister of Indigenous People’s Affairs, Sydney Allicock, has said that his ministry is in the process of establishing a permanent unit to deal directly with the Amerindian Land Titling Project (ALT), in an effort to accelerate its work plan.
The project, which began in 2013 and should have been completed in three years, has been granted an extension to December 2021, as such a review of the budget is being undertaken and there are plans to expand the staff.
Speaking Sunday afternoon on the National Communications Network (NCN) programme `INSIGHT” on Voice of Guyana, Minister Allicock explained that under the initial time span granted for the project, it was expected that over 60 villages would have been titled and
Describing the project as an “ambitious” one, the minister said the exercise proved to be tedious and time consuming, and at the end of the period, several communities had not even had their issue addressed. Others also reneged on earlier decisions, at the last minute, just at the point of approval.
But the minister expressed confidence that with the new approach, the project will be completed, even as he called on the village leaders and residents to not only complain but also assist by coming up with ideas.
The minister spoke too of other challenges including the Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC), which allows for the respective communities to be fully involved in the process, and must be adhered when demarking lands in indigenous communities.
In 2013, when the ALT project was signed by the previous government, it was to have been undertaken with $2.2B budget, but in 2017 the project was extended and a further $165M was set aside to aid the completion.
According to the minister, as the ministry seeks to ensure that there is development within each community, it has recognised that there needs to be more unity within the communities, before much serious development can take place.
Nevertheless, there have been some achievements, the first being the creating of a National Toshaos Council (NTC) which represents the 10 administrative regions in Guyana, with 215 villages and communities and nine indigenous groups with some 100, 000 people, and the hosting of its first conference
Meanwhile, a 10-point plan that was given in August 2015 by President David Granger is being followed and communities are now coming together to understand the bigger picture, even as the minister urged that residents develop their Village Improvement Plan (VIP) that is a key aspect.
Leaders have to begin to step up their game and take responsibility for their actions, make suggestions and come up with solutions, he reiterated.
According to Minister Allicock, upon coming into government, a foundation was laid with the main focus being having a green economy leading into a good life.