-President Ali reminds nation of opposition’s failure to promote Amerindian development, says gov’t has consistently done more for them
PRESIDENT, Dr Irfaan Ali on Sunday called out the political opposition as being hypocritical in their contention on how the government is disbursing funds from Guyana’s carbon-credit sale to the Amerindian communities.
In an early-morning address which was livestreamed on his social media page, he reminded the nation that the opposition during their time in government (2015 to 2020) “dropped the ball” regarding revenue that could be earned from Guyana’s forest preservation when they decided to dispose of the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS).
Both the A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and the Alliance For Change (AFC) political parties recently sought to lecture on how the government should distribute and spend money acquired from the carbon credit deal with the Hess Corporation, which will see the country earning a minimum of US$750 million.
The deal was a result of work under Guyana’s LCDS 2030.
“The LCDS was tossed aside by the APNU+AFC while they were in government. The credit that we sold included legacy credit that was available for the period of time they tossed aside the LCDS. Where was their commitment then? They tossed aside a strategy that the world embraced, that placed Guyana along an international path that not only brought recognition, but brought respect as we pursued sustainable development,” the President noted.
The LCDS was first developed in 2007, but was dumped by the APNU+AFC when they came into government in 2015. Instead of the LCDS, the APNU+AFC introduced the Green State Development Strategy (GSDS).
Approximately US$112 million (GYD$23.571 billion) from the carbon credit will go directly to Amerindian communities under an arrangement which will see 15 per cent of all proceeds from any sale of carbon credits going to those communities.
This year, Amerindian communities will directly receive $4.7 billion (US$22 million) earned from the carbon-credits sale. However, both the APNU and AFC have since contended that the Amerindian communities should get a larger amount.
However, the President reminded that the government has “always consistently given the Amerindian people more,” while the APNU+AFC track record of its treatment of our indigenous peoples is less than stellar.
“They would want us to forget that this very APNU+AFC when in government took away more than 2,000 CSO jobs, took away almost $4 billion from our Amerindians; this government restored back the $4 billion,” the President said.
“For five years APNU+AFC never built a single secondary school in any Amerindian community. We are fixing that. We came back into government and found all the tractors, vehicles, and equipment we had given to the Amerindian communities all in disrepair. We have bought new tractors for every community and this is aside from the 15 per cent going directly to the Amerindian communities,” he added.
The President also called out the opposition for the lack of movement on land titling of Amerindian communities during their time in office.
“Let us not be sidetracked from the selfish desires of a bunch that cared nothing about hinterland and riverine development. We are committed to the development of all of Guyana, working with every single community,” Dr Ali said.
“We need to work with the people and the people know the truth. Every single one of those villages know the truth. They know when their lives are improving, and know when they went backward in their development.”
Amerindian and hinterland communities are expected to see accelerated development this year as the government allocated some $35 billion for these communities in the 2023 budget. This sum will cover infrastructural improvements as well as programmes that will improve the well-being of Guyana’s Indigenous peoples.
There will also be the customary Presidential grants and investments in education, health and other areas.