Land titling and demarcation of lands in Indigenous communities remain “paramount” on the government’s agenda, says Amerindian Affairs Minister, Pauline Sukhai. The minister gave this assurance during her address to the National Toshaos Conference (NTC) this morning.

The affirmation followed a disclosure that two land extensions and five Certificates of Title will be delivered to village leaders during the five-day conference. This development comes in less than eight months, and speaks “volumes” about the efforts being made by the government, she said.

Additionally, the minister noted that her office is also pursuing the approval of a two-year extension to accomplish “once and for all” the completion of titling and demarcation of Amerindian lands.

Revision of Amerindian Act

The Amerindian Act is the primary legislation that governs the affairs of the Amerindian people of Guyana. It provides for the recognition, and protection of collective rights of Amerindian Villages and Communities in Guyana and the promotion of good governance. The People’s Progressive Party/ Civic Government in its manifesto in the run-up to the general elections of March 2020 had promised to revise the Act and ensure it adequately meets the current, and future needs of the Amerindians of Guyana. Sukhai said this morning that government will fulfil that promise, but it must be done through wide consultations with village leaders and stakeholders.

“The revision will take into consideration the increased benefits and secured rights and will not consider the dilution of any such rights and must result in increased benefits and more secure rights for our people,” she added.

This year, the ministry’s budget includes the provision of $10M to commence the consultation process. The funds will be geared at setting up the Committee, approving the modalities of consultation, and training of facilitators.

The NTC is the highest decision body for the representation of the Indigenous Peoples of Guyana. The conference, which is held annually, could not be said Toshao of Moraikobai, Derrick John, who delivered the welcome and opening remarks, and called on his fellow leaders to embrace the theme of the event: “Good governance and fast-tracking Amerindian Development.”

“Good governance is the process of measuring how public institutions conduct public affairs and manage public resources. I believe that we cannot see development if we as Indigenous leaders and leaders of all scopes do not practice good governance. Good governance is the catalyst for true development. I believe that that should be the motto of all Toshaos who are here, because we have a limited time in office, but let us use this opportunity to practice good governance as we navigate the rest of our tenure,” he said.

He added, “Our people have confidence in us, and our people have invested in us. As we gather here in these five days, let us make full use of the time and when we go back [to our communities], let us go back with the gospel – the good news – and we can go back and tell them that we have achieved our objectives.”


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