Impact of COVID on hinterland communities a concern for Govt – President

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…$1.7B Amerindian Development Fund could be expanded

President Dr Irfaan Ali and Tourism, Industry and Commerce Minister Oneidge Walrond during their meeting with the Rupununi Chamber of Commerce

Expressing concern for the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had not only on the health but the livelihood of the Amerindian community, President Dr Irfaan Ali said that the $1.7 Billion Amerindian Development Fund could be expanded.

He was at the time addressing dozens of community leaders in Region Nine (Upper Takatu-Upper Essequibo), where he and a delegation that included his cabinet went to attend the Regional Toshaos Meeting.

According to the President, his government’s interest is in implementing policies that give back, rather than take away from the pockets of the people. In this vein, he spoke of the Amerindian Development Fund which will aim to cushion to effect the COVID-19 pandemic has had on them.

“My Government is seriously concerned about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the hinterland communities and the economic setbacks it has caused. As such, the government has allocated $1.73 Billion in an investment fund for your villages, your communities. We did it for you.”

“And we know the impact it will make on your lives and your community. And that is why we give it to you. And once we start to see the returns, we are going to give more to you. Because you deserve it. And you will get it under the People’s Progressive Party government,” President Ali also said.

Guyana’s COVID-19 deaths continue to rise. Just four days into September, 15 persons have died from the virus. Now, the death toll has risen to 640. An updated dashboard showed cases increasing by 183, hiking the total confirmed to 26,295.

An analysis of new cases showed five from Region One (Barima-Waini); 12 in Region Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam); 16 in Region Three (Essequibo Islands-West Demerara); 124 in Region Four (Demerara-Mahaica); five in Region Five (Mahaica-Berbice); 10 in Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne); five in Region Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni); one in Region Eight (Potaro-Siparuni) and five in Region 10 (Upper Demerara-Berbice).

In his message to Guyana’s first peoples on the occasion of Amerindian Heritage Month 2021 last week, the Head of State had explained that through the injection of resources into the Amerindian Development Fund, the government was stimulating economic projects in Amerindian villages, thereby generating jobs and providing incomes.

He had also promised that the Amerindian Act would be updated, becoming 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, he had said, would entrench provisions that will promote greater Amerindian inclusion in decision-making and greater integration in national development. It would also 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.

During his trip to Region Nine, the President also met with members of the Rupununi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (RCCI) in Lethem. During the meeting, the Head of State updated the business community on his government’s plans and programmes for the region.

He also facilitated a question-and-answer segment where he listened to the issues, concerns and suggestions from the business community and offering both short-term and long-term solutions. Tourism, Industry and Commerce Minister, Oneidge Walrond was also present at the meeting.