Thursday, October 28, 2010

Sukhai, toshaos skewer Guyana Times report on demarcation

GUYANA - Amerindian Affair s Minister Pauline Sukhai and a battery of Amerindian leaders have condemned a Guyana Times article in which other Amerindian representatives had voiced concerns about the land demarcation exercise.

The minister called a news briefing yesterday to address the issue at the Guyana International Conference Centre where toshaos and councillors have been gathering since Monday for the National Toshaos Council (NTC) meeting.

The article in yesterday’s edition headlined `Amerindians unhappy with demarcation exercise’ quoted several individuals including toshaos.

Flanked by 11 toshaos, including NTC executives, Sukhai blasted the media house for “not knowing the facts.” She noted that the demarcation exercise is done in keeping with the Amerindian Act of which the indigenous people had significant input, including on the demarcation process itself.

“These processes were developed by the leaders from the various communities across our hinterland so those areas within the Act which deals with land have found ownership among the Amerindian population, both community members and leaders,” she said.

Additionally, Sukhai said, when an area is being demarcated three members of the village council are included on the survey team to monitor the exercise and surveyors are encouraged to hire the locals for additional guidance.

The minister noted that part of the documentation requirement of the process involves the communities indicating their satisfaction with the demarcation process and this has been done by the communities whose boundaries have been settled.

“Of the 73 villages that had demarcation we’ve not had a complaint and Kaburi which is the first name mentioned in the article is saying that they were unsatisfied, that they had lost land and their area was demarcated in 2007 and they accepted,” she stated.

According to the minister, “it baffles the mind how such a statement appears in the newspaper when the facts are documented.” She also chastised the newspaper for not contacting the village’s toshao to verify the information.

Sukhai noted that the same community is among 36 who have applied for extensions. Those, she said, will be dealt with after the demarcation of the other villages has been completed.

Meanwhile NTC Chairperson Yvonne Pearson said she was disappointed that the individuals would go to the media to air those concerns when they had an opportunity to do so at the five-day meeting.

“How could we go to the press and say something when we have the opportunity to present it to His Excellency himself and the other ministers at a perfect forum?”

The other toshaos all added their bit, voicing support for the government’s demarcation efforts and “outrage” and “embarrassment” at the report, even going as far as calling for an apology from the media house.

In addition to Kaburi, the other communities cited in the article as having problems with the demarcation process were Chenapau, Kurutuku, Hobodia, and Kato. Speaking to reporters after the briefing Presidential Advisor on Governance Gail Teixeira said there appeared to be some mischief afoot.

“I find it funny that with 134 toshaos here that they didn’t find one toshao that said our land was demarcated and our people are happy. Someone is playing interesting games at a time when we’re having a very important conference,” Teixeira said.

Earlier Sukhai had disclosed that there were 96 titled villages, including the 73 that were already demarcated. The administration was in the process of having seven others demarcated and this was expected to be completed in the first quarter of next year, she said.

Five others are to come under the 2011 demarcation programme while another five are yet to request demarcation the minister noted. The remaining six have taken their land issues before the court.

President Bharrat Jagdeo had announced on Monday at the opening of the meeting that US$8M from the first tranche of money expected from the GRIF facility with Norway will go towards Amerindian communities. Half of that sum will be used to accelerate the land demarcation exercise and Sukhai yesterday said they expected to have that completed in “maybe two to three years.”

The conference ends tomorrow.

Source: Stabroek News

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Amerindian communities to get US$8M of Norway $30M

GUYANA - Amerindian communities are to receive US$8M of the US$30M first tranche from the Guyana REDD+ Investment Fund set up with Norway, President Bharrat Jagdeo today announced.

He made the revelation at the opening of the five-day National Toshaos Council Meeting at the Guyana International Conference Centre, Liliendaal. Half of the money will be used to continue the Amerindian land demarcation exercise while the rest will be used to purchase solar panels for every Amerindian home and fund activities arising from the council meeting.

Source: Stabroek News

Saturday, October 23, 2010

National Toshaos Council to meet

GUYANA - The National Toshaos Council (NTC) meeting will be held from October 25 to 29, 2010 at the Guyana International Conference Centre, Liliendaal, East Coast Demerara.

President Bharrat Jagdeo will be the keynote speaker at the opening ceremony, according to a release from GINA.

One hundred and sixty-six leaders including all Toshaos and Senior Councilors, 12 Community Development Officers (CDOs) and Regional Officials are expected to attend.

President Jagdeo will lead a two-day interactive discussion session during which updates on the Low Carbon Development Strategy’s Implementation phase and on several Government of Guyana initiatives such as Solar Panels, Land Demarcation, Funding of Amerindian Villages Community Development Plans (CDPs), One Laptop Per Family (OLPF) Programme and the Amaila Falls Hydro-electricity will be discussed among other issues relevant to village development. The theme for the conference is `Advancing Development in a Low Carbon Economy’.

The opening ceremony will commence at 10:30hrs on Monday, October 25, 2010.

Source: Stabroek News