DEFENDING her ministry’s budgetary allocations in the National Assembly on Friday last, Amerindian Affairs Minister, Pauline Sukhai, said that the 2021 budget is centered on indigenous youths, social development, agriculture and infrastructure aimed at the enhancement and further development of Indigenous Peoples and their communities.
During her contributions to the 2021 budget debate at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (ACCC), the minister said that over the last three months, some 213 Amerindian Villages were able to access the Presidential Grant Fund, which allowed them to pursue sustainable village projects.
The Presidential Grant, Sukhai noted, is one of the major interventions being undertaken by the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) government, aimed at boosting economic and social development for Indigenous Peoples in their respective villages and communities. As such, an additional $300M has been set aside in the 2021 National Budget.
The fund will see hinterland communities receiving specific sums, ranging from $500,000 to $2,000,000, according to population size. To complement this, Sukhai also announced that another $1.7 billion has been allocated to support Amerindian villages and their development. Speaking on youth development, the minister indicated that $820 million will be spent on the Community Support Officers (CSOs) Programme to provide creation of jobs and build capacity to empower youths.
“We have put truth to our words to the youths of this country, we have reinstated, as soon as we came into office, the CSO programme…in this year Mr. Speaker, the training component of the CSO programme has been budgeted and Mr. Speaker, $820 million is going towards building capacity and empowering Amerindian youths under the CSO programme,” Sukhai told the National Assembly.
She explained that some 174 young CSOs will be trained in computer literacy, while 220 young male and female CSOs will be trained in the installation of solar panels and maintenance of other infrastructure in the various hinterland communities.
She also noted that the government will provide 35 household solar units across the hinterland and remote communities and will restart its Information and Communications Technology (ICT) programme.
“Mr. Speaker, we will restart the ICT programme and we will, in two years, install 200 systems for Amerindian and hinterland communities. We are going to deliver.
In fact, in the last three months, we have already transported more than 10 batches of equipment for installation in Region Nine,” Sukhai told the House.
As it relates to the agriculture sector, Minister Sukhai said that the previous administration did very little to address the issues of farmers and other agriculture stakeholders in the hinterland regions.
“We have budgeted for agriculture support and Mr. Speaker, we will deliver very shortly 112 tractors to Amerindian communities and in 2021 Budget, we have made provision to procure 112 plow and harrow to enhance the agriculture production of the hinterland and Amerindian communities.”
The minister noted that budgetary allocation will also support transportation services and enhance the agriculture and forestry sectors.