Opposition Leader, Dr Bharrat Jagdeo on Wednesday asserted that it seems as though the Indigenous People will not be seeing any progress within their sector, since President David Granger failed to address the vital issues being faced by them at the National Toshaos Council (NTC) Conference 2018.
Jagdeo also lambasted the President for what he said was his “meaningless statement” made at the Conference.
“The President in his entire speech spoke about the village improvement plans [VIP]….Now, we had a Community Development Plan that the Toshaos after almost two years, through a consultative process, developed with us, for every community…they [Government] just threw that out the window and started a new process …Under our program, we had set aside several billions to fund this program…under the president’s VIP [program], they have not identified a [financial] source…this Government only focuses on meaningless statements…,” he told media operatives during his weekly press conference on Wednesday.
To this end, the Opposition Leader posited that he was not surprised when the Head of the National Toshaos Council, Joel Fredricks accused the Government of breaking its promise to the Amerindian people.
“He [Fredricks] went on to enumerate some of the areas where the promises were broken…Revision of the [Amerindian] Act- a pre-election promise…APNU said the 2006 Act was not adequate….Amerindian Land Titling…nothing has happened in that area too, although we left US$10.7M….No movement on constitutional reform…Renaming of villages…. the plot of land to the NTC that was promised by President…,” Jagdeo recounted.
He further criticized Granger’s response, highlighting that it displayed exactly how “disassociated” the President is with society.
The President at the side-lines of the NTC conference, when questioned on the broken promises said “I don’t know any promise has been broken. They asked for a plot of land, I went there, turned the sod myself and it’s being processed. I didn’t break any promises.”
However, according to Jagdeo, the President did not address the big issues. “This is what they [NTC] were saying he broke his promise on…not a little piece of land at Turkeyen…only someone who is not associated with reality can make the sort of speech that he made, that means nothing to people and then come out and make this sort of comment to the media” he said.
The former President went on to say that he does not blame the NTC for wanting answers and solutions to their issues, since this was a customary action under the former People’s Progressive Party Administration.
“…the Toshaos have come out here with great expectations as they always do…The expectations are related to their development and from history and practice, this expectation- working night and day to address their concerns, this was practiced throughout the PPP tenure…Working with, through many sessions, working with the Toshaos to address as many issues that arise,” he reminisced.
The NTC conference of 2018 opened on Monday with outgoing Chairman Joel Fredericks blasting Government for a number of unfulfilled promises.
According to Fredericks, the indigenous peoples of Guyana were promised a number of things, such as the revision of the Amerindian Act of 2006; Constitutional reform, and land to build an NTC Secretariat.
Fredericks contended that, for three years, the NTC listened carefully to every indigenous people’s policy Government had announced.
However, in those three years, trust, he said, has been eroded by Government’s failure to effectively act on promises made.
Meanwhile, while being present at the event, President Granger did not make a pronouncement on Fredrick’s accusations of broken promises until he was asked by the media to comment.
Even then, without putting up much of an argument, he maintained that he is not aware of any broken promises since his Government came into power in 2015. (Ramona Luthi)