$1B Amerindian Development Fund in jeopardy

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By Kurt Campbell

A number of Amerindians gathered at the National Assembly. [iNews' Photo]
A number of Amerindians gathered at the National Assembly. [iNews’ Photo]
[www.inewsguyana.com] – Following its proposed disapproval of funding for the Specialty Hospital and other regional and clinic services, the Opposition has voted down the $1.1B allocated for Amerindian Development for the fiscal year 2014.

This means that the $1B Amerindian Development Fund which falls under that category could reach its peril once the proposal goes through.

Amerindian Opposition Members of Parliament said that it was the failure of the government to meet and answer questions surrounding the controversial $1B fund that they were forced to exercise their democratic right in the Committee of Supply. 

APNU and AFC expressed concern over “the abuse of the fund” by the government for political purposes. The American MPs claimed that the programme was being used to manipulate Amerindians and urge the administration to take their concerns on board as well.

The two parties said they decided not to support the funding without the assurance that the programme is on a sound, non – political, education foundation.

Amerindian MPs explain their reasons for voting against the allocation. [iNews' Photo]
Amerindian MPs explain their reasons for voting against the allocation. [iNews’ Photo]
Amerindian Affairs Minister Pauline Sukhai in responding to questions from the opposition benches had stated that the programme, designed under the Fund came out of the annual National Toshoas Council.

 The House was told that using the US$6 million allocation to the Fund in 2013, milestone disbursements were made to all 26 of the initial beneficiary communities for the implementation of their development plans in promoting sustainable village economies.

The Opposition had asked if there was any assessment to verify whether the money was spent properly and targets met. In response, Minister Sukhai told the House that a report was being formulated in that regard.

She said the programme stands to benefit more than 900 Amerindian youths.

Already Amerindians who were present in the House at the time expressed their disappointment.

“Imagine we make up 10 per cent of this population and one percent of the budget they have denied us,” Yvonne Pearson told iNews.

She said the opposition actions could only be interpreted as a lack of care for Amerindians.

Speaker of the House Raphael Trotman had explained earlier that the votes were only proposals and when members sit in plenary, a final decision will be made.

On Wednesday, April 09 the Speaker announced that the Opposition can only propose amendments after which it would be up to the government to accept or reject the proposal.

The proposals will be examined in a sub – committee that the Speaker suggested be established to consider the proposed amendments to the Budget. The committee comprises four members of the opposition and three members of the government and is chaired by the Speaker.

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