President Dr Irfaan Ali has made a commitment to rehiring the 2,000 Community Support Officers (CSOs) whose employment was terminated by the APNU/AFC after they took office back in 2015.
The President made the announcement in his address to mark the commencement of Amerindian Heritage Month 2020. President Ali made it clear that all the benefits that were aimed at empowering indigenous communities which were “heartlessly snatched away” will be restored.
President Ali, said that Community Development Plans (CDPs) will be reintroduced to ensure that indigenous peoples are able to determine the sustainable livelihoods they desire.
The President further added that his administration will return to the ground-breaking partnership forged through the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) and advance the innovative “OPT IN” feature which allowed villages to benefit directly from the proceeds of Carbon Trading Services.
The Head of State noted that Amerindian Heritage Month 2020 is being commemorated this year in unusual circumstances. He said that while the COVID-19 pandemic has tempered this year’s observances, “it has failed to totally cripple our ability to honour and celebrate with our Amerindian brothers and sisters”.
President Ali assured that as soon as the situation permits, he will return to the various communities to listen to the concerns of residents so that their development needs could be addressed.
On this basis, he noted that very soon the Government will be rolling out a detailed programme to bring relief to hinterland communities to cope of the economic challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I assure you that your government remains resolute in ensuring the safety of indigenous communities, not just at an individual level but the issues of food security.
“We will be announcing measures very shortly that are aimed directly at every household in the hinterland to bring relief, to bring ease and to improve your living standards.”
President Ali said that he has since directed the Minister of Health to fast track hinterland interventions and relief measures who has since advised that following sweeping consultations currently underway with Amerindian leaders, emergency measures will be announced shortly.
In the coming years, President Ali promised that the country’s first peoples can look forward to improvements in social services.
He noted that health facilities will be increased, upgraded and better equipped to provide enhanced and more accessible health care across the hinterlands.
Ali said indigenous children can look forward to a higher quality education, including through the use of Information Communication Technologies, the provision of more and better-trained teachers and the award of scholarships.
He added the hinterland water infrastructure and the electrification programme that was started, will be expanded through the use of alternative energy technologies such as Solar and Hydro power.