State Minister Joseph Harmon has announced that his Administration is now considering a larger plot of land for the National Toshaos Council (NTC) to construct their Secretariat.
This is as President David Granger had, almost one year ago, turned the sod for construction of the secretariat at a plot of land at Sophia and a few days after outgoing NTC Chairman Joel Fredericks had bashed the President for broken promises, one such being the issuance of the land for the NTC Secretariat.
The sod was turned for construction of the NTC Headquarters in August of 2017.
The construction never commenced because the NTC has been awaiting the legal documents. The Council wants title for the plot of land.
However, the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission had recently said the 50-year-lease has already been prepared and is awaiting pick up by the NTC. This was supposed to be done on Friday.
But this new announcement could mean that the lease for Sophia will be scrapped, if the NTC decides to go for the larger plot.
Harmon, on Friday told the media during a post-Cabinet press briefing that this decision was taken after it was felt that the land identified in Sophia was insufficient.
Harmon explained that Government is in the process of identifying a larger plot of land, particularly from GuySuCo, so that the NTC could have a larger complex.
He related that the President had made the decision after reviewing the Sophia land with Indigenous Peoples Affairs Minister Sydney Allicock, who is consulting with the new NTC Executive.
Responding to this announcement, newly elected NTC Chairman Nicholas Fredericks told this media group that the NTC is yet to decide on the way forward, but he noted that Minister Allicock had made a general statement about the larger plot.
“We have been in constant contact with the Ministry (MoIPA), but we are yet to decide on anything. We have the two options, and the larger plot would mean that we can have a bigger complex. It means that we can build accommodation for when our leaders come out, and (have) more space for expansion in the future,” Fredericks said.
He said that the final decision would be taken after the new executive meets in the coming weeks.
At the opening of the NTC Conference on Monday, outgoing Chairman Joel Fredericks had said the indigenous peoples of Guyana had been promised a number of things, such as the revision of the Amerindian Act of 2006; Constitutional reform; and land to build an NTC Secretariat.
He disclosed that, for three years, the NTC had listened carefully to every indigenous people’s policy Government had announced. However, in those three years, trust has been eroded by Government’s failure to effectively act on promises made.
The National Toshaos Conference concluded on Friday.