Greater protection of Amerindian rights, resources guaranteed
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President, Dr. Irfaan Ali
President, Dr. Irfaan Ali

–as President Ali promises updated Amerindian Act

PRESIDENT, Dr. Irfaan Ali, has recommitted his government’s intention to update the Amerindian Act, which, he said, will become the “principal legal” instrument for the protection of indigenous peoples’ rights, including guarantees of their entitlement to their lands and rights over those lands.

“The updated Act will entrench provisions that will promote greater Amerindian inclusion in decision-making and greater integration in national development. It will outline an enhanced role for Amerindians in the management of their communities and control over their resources, including measures aimed at protecting the environment and ensuring sustainable development,” Dr. Ali said in his message to mark the commencement of Amerindian Heritage Month.

He noted that in keeping with promises made by the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C), the government has started to adopt measures to improve access to the delivery of education, health services, housing, and infrastructure within Amerindian communities.
“Through the injection of resources into the Amerindian Development Fund, we are also stimulating economic projects in Amerindian villages, thereby generating jobs and providing incomes,” President Ali noted.

The Head of State said that his administration is wholeheartedly committed to improving the lives of all Amerindians over the next five years and beyond.

“We will build on our past record of promoting and supporting Amerindian rights and development,” Dr. Ali posited.
He said that since assuming office a little over a year ago, much effort has been placed on alleviating the challenges faced by Amerindians.

“Transportation and connectivity are being enhanced. We have been providing resources for improving roads, bridges and airfields in the hinterland. We have also removed VAT [Value Added Tax] on the cost of hinterland travel to make such travel more affordable.

“Access to Information Communication Technology (ICT) is also being increased across our indigenous communities through the creation of hubs for learning, work and leisure,” President Ali related.

He said that a significant bulk of the investments have gone into ensuring the enhancement of the education system within the hinterland regions.
“Schools are being built and renovated. ICT will become a driver of improved hinterland education, and more hinterland students will benefit from scholarships,” Dr. Ali said.

He also pointed to the resuscitation of the Community Support Officers scheme, which will secure the employment of dozens of Amerindians. The Head of State promised also that Amerindians will benefit from continued investments in relation to improved hinterland electricity, through an expanded renewable energy programme for indigenous villages.

Added to the programmes that have been specifically designed to cater to the needs of Amerindian peoples, President Ali reminded that all Guyanese, regardless of their ethnic background, have also benefitted from a number of direct initiatives, including the government’s $25,000 household grant and the $19,000 education/school cash grant.

Dr. Ali said that the dedication of the month of September to Guyana’s indigenous peoples is in accordance with the well-deserved recognition and honour which is due to them and their contributions to Guyana’s development, which include an iconic culture that remains an integral part of the country’s rich multicultural tapestry.

“We will continue to preserve and celebrate the rich cultural heritage of Guyana’s Amerindian peoples, including their languages, religious and other beliefs, values, traditions, food, art, craft, symbols, music and dances. Indigenous culture will be treasured, safeguarded from erasure or debasement,” President Ali posited.

He said that despite the challenges posed by floods and the COVID-19 pandemic, Amerindians can be assured that their future is secure.

“They can look forward to ever-improving standards of living and greater opportunities because of the support and recognition which my government is paying to Amerindian rights and development,” Dr. Ali said.

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