$800M for Amerindian Development Fund

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Aerial view of a section of the village [Photo from The Beauty of Kopinang page on Facebook]
An allocation of $800M has been made available in the emergency Budget for 2020 that will go towards the Amerindian Development Fund (ADF).

President Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali made the announcement on Monday at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre, ahead of the budget presentation.

The Amerindian Development Fund, launched in 2014, is a multi-pronged, long-term and integrated strategy for achieving and fostering the socio-economic development of Amerindian communities in Guyana through community-driven business ventures known as ‘Community Development Plans’ (CDPs).

These community business ventures cover agricultural production and processing, village infrastructure, tourism, manufacturing, village business enterprise, and transportation, among others.

These community projects are aimed at strengthening the entrepreneurial capacity of indigenous communities, diversify their economy, create job opportunities and reducing poverty.

President Ali also noted that the budget will support the reintroduction of the Community Service Officers in Amerindian Communities. The CSO programme was discontinued under the previous APNU+AFC Coalition. This is an initiative aimed at developing young Amerindians in the various villages and communities through the creation of job opportunities and building capacity and strengthening their individual interests and skills.

Minister of Amerindian Affairs, Pauline Sukhai during a recent engagement in Fairview, Region 9 advised residents to prepare themselves for when the programme restarts.

She noted that the programme will start with twenty villages “The first 20 that prepare themselves, select their candidates and send it in to the ministry, we will send out our team to do the inductions, therefore this a challenge and an opportunity for villages to prepare themselves,” the minister tasked.

The selection of persons for the CSO programme is done by villagers. Minister Sukhai urged the villagers to ensure that the most vulnerable youths benefit from the programme.

The CSOs engagement was launched in 2014, under the Youth Entrepreneurship and Apprenticeship Programme (YEAP). It targeted some 2,000 youths between the ages of 16-40 in Regions One, Seven, Eight and Nine.

The reintroduction of this programme will replace the Hinterland Employment and Youth Service (HEYS) programme, which was introduced by the former APNU+AFC Coalition Administration, which came to a halt in 2019.

Other measures covered in Budget 2020 that will support Amerindian development include the removal of VAT on hinterland travel, the 25,000 solar units for hinterland, the $15,000 Cash Grant for school children, the new ferry for North – West, the $25, 000 for old age pension, the $150M for frontline workers, the $200M to expand the Guyana Learning Channel, the $1.5B for Hinterland urban and rural roads and the $25, 000 per Household for COVID-19 Relief.