Six weeks after the 2023 Budget was laid in the National Assembly, the Guyana Government extracted $4.7B from the nation’s purse, which it disbursed to more than 200 Indigenous communities to fund sustainable village projects.

The minister responsible for the disbursement, Pauline Sukhai, faced intense questioning in the National Assembly regarding the timing of the withdrawal, coming so soon after the budget’s approval. However, the minister defended the move, stating that it was not unprecedented.

In response to queries raised by Opposition Member of Parliament (MP) Volda Lawerence, Minister Sukhai highlighted the disparities between the development of coastal areas and hinterland communities.

She argued that the urgent need to address these gaps warranted the withdrawal of funds as an emergency measure. Sukhai also pointed out the previous government’s failure to address these disparities adequately and questioned whether these discrepancies were not significant enough to be considered an emergency. She added that even when Lawerence’s party was in government between 2015 and 2020, it also recognised the need to close the gaps, but is now questioning the rationale of the disbursement.

“Isn’t that an emergency? Are you telling me that Indigenous Peoples’ development is not an emergency; that it is not important? Say it to this House! Say it to this nation!” she said.

Lawrence in response, said that all her party cares about is accountability and transparency.

“Let me just say to the Honourable Minister, with all due respect, the issue here on this side of the House, is not spending monies on our people – whether they are Indigenous or not – it is about accountability and transparency. That is what it is,” the opposition parliamentarian said before discontinuing her line of questioning.

The sum was later passed by the House.


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