20 hinterland communities to get land titles this year

– millions budgeted for Amerindian development
In keeping with its election manifesto promise, the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government has allotted millions of dollars towards the development of the country’s Indigenous people, including the distribution of land titles to hinterland communities.
This is according to Senior Minister with Responsibility for Finance, Dr Ashni Singh during his presentation of the massive $552.9 billion Budget 2022 on Wednesday.
According to the Finance Minister, Government is committed to ensuring that Amerindians and hinterland villages are economically empowered, especially through the land titling programme, which he reminded had languished during the five years under the APNU/AFC regime.
“In 2022, our Government will continue to support the rights of our Indigenous peoples by accelerating the Land Titling programme at a cost of $561.6 million allocated in this budget to achieve a target of 20 Certificates of Title,” Dr Singh stated.
The issuance of these titles to hinterland communities allows Amerindians to secure their lands and natural resources in order to achieve sustainable, social, and economic development.
The PPP/C had promised in its manifesto to resuscitate the Amerindian Land Titling (ALT) Unit that was disbanded by the coalition Administration and did so last year. A sum of $630 million was allocated to the project in the 2021 budget and saw a total of five demarcations completed.
According to the Minister, the Certificates of Title for these demarcations are currently being issued, with the Indigenous citizens residing within Capoey village being the first of the five villages to receive their Certificate of Title.
He noted that this is in keeping with his Administration’s commitment to ensure that all Guyanese participate fully in the economic transformation that is currently unfolding in the country. He added that Government is mindful of the unique challenges faced by Amerindian people, particularly those residing in remote communities.
To this end, the Finance Minister posited that the PPP/C Government will further ensure the economic empowerment of the Indigenous people through the development of their village economy.
“We are also committed to ensuring that all of the country’s best educational and training opportunities are available to our hinterland brothers and sisters as they are to those on the coast. And, we are committed to ensuring that the quality of social services delivered to all villages is improved markedly,” the Minister stated.
Dr Singh went on to highlight that in its support of sustainable livelihoods of hinterland communities, Government last year expended $673 million for tractors, implements and economic projects all aimed at enhancing the development of agriculture, tourism, women and youth.
This saw 112 tractors and trailers along with implements distributed to Amerindian communities to help promote village agriculture as well as for use in transport.
In 2022, according to the Finance Minister, “a further sum of $411.2 million will result in 71 additional communities benefitting. Similarly bringing the total number of communities to 183 since this Government took office.”
Meanwhile, Government has also set aside a sum of $3.4 billion this year for the hinterland roads programme in order to improve connectivity.
With regards to the 2000 Community Support Officers (CSOs) who were reinstated by the PPP/C Administration after being fired by the coalition regime, Minister Singh disclosed some $666.5 million was expended on stipends for the CSOs under the Youth Entrepreneurship and Apprenticeship Programme last year.
He added that a further sum of $115.6 million was also injected into the training of 420 CSOs in areas such as ICT, tractor driving, licensing and maintenance; and solar panel installation and maintenance.
“[We are] equipping them with skills that are relevant and that would be of value to both their own personal upliftment but also to the village economy,” the Minister noted.
This year, he added, the number of CSOs is slated to increase to 2500, thus creating an additional 500 jobs for young persons in Amerindian villages, and an additional sum of $60 million will be spent on training 650 CSOs to serve in 220 communities within all 10 administrative regions in areas such as tourism and hospitality; development of business plans; food safety pre-requisites; good manufacturing practices; ATV and outboard engine repairs and licensing; as well as garment construction.
Dr Singh pointed out that through these interventions, Government will continue to drive employment and opportunities for our Amerindian youth.
On this note, he disclosed that some 31,295 hinterland students are expected to benefit this year from the PPP/C Administration’s “Because We Care” cash grants to school children, which was increased to $25,000 per child from $15,000.
Additionally, to improve access to education and skills, Minister Singh also announced the allocation of $93.3 million towards the hinterland scholarship programme, which will see some 805 students benefiting.
In total, the Finance Minister said a whopping $3.1 billion is allocated for core Amerindian development programmes. This, he added, along with key investments across every sector will set the stage for a rapid improvement in wellbeing in the country’s Amerindian and hinterland villages.