By Kurt Campbell
[www.inewsguyana.com] –Chairman of the National Toshaos Council, Derrick John has called on his fellow Amerindian Leaders to exhibit greater accountability and transparency in the management of resources entrusted to them for the development of Amerindian villages.
He was speaking at the opening of the 2014 annual National Toshaos Conference (NTC) this morning, where over 200 Amerindians – the first people – gathered for the four day event to share experiences, challenges and ideas for develop with the President, his government and other stakeholders.
John told the gathering that development within Amerindian communities have “come a long way” pointing out that this year’s theme: “Harnessing the Power of our Leadership” was most appropriate.
He expressed special thanks to the government for making this year’s conference a reality; explaining that earlier in the year there was widespread doubts that it would happen.
He told Toshaos and village leaders gathered that they must never betray the trust people have placed in them and at all times strive to be honest in their partnership with the state and the management of its resources.
John said humility, commitment and maintaining a positive attitude are all traits all leaders should emulate at all times.
While several government Ministers were present, notable absent was Amerindian Affairs Minister Pauline Sukhai who is said to be sick.
Speaking in her absence and delivering the feature address at the opening ceremony, President Donald Ramotar said he is proud of the best practices encouraged by the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs in all Amerindian Villages.
He too called for greater accountability and transparency among leaders, especially when dealing with finances. According to the President, Amerindians account for 9.7% of the population and occupy 14.1% of the land mass which they own along with forest for which they have sub service rights.
He said in an effort to make the nation motto: “one people, one nation, one destiny” more than just a slogan, the administration continues to ensure equal opportunities for all Guyanese.
He reminded that Amerindians were historically placed at a disadvantage and their fundamental needs were ignored; pointing out that his administration has taken a different approach where the country’s resources are used to benefit all people.
“We believe that the most important factor to develop is people, therefor it is important that we develop their capacity,” Ramotar said; adding that “we see great growth potential in Amerindian communities which can contribute largely to national development.”
He spoke of improved access to education and health care in Amerindian villages along with several projects on stream to improve the economic standing of those communities.