Georgetown, GINA, August 3, 2016
Prime Minister and First Vice President, Moses Nagamootoo and Minister of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs and Vice President, Sydney Allicock, recently met with residents of Surama Village, Region Nine and updated them on Government’s plans for the development of indigenous communities, and the country as a whole.
During the meeting which took place at the Surama village office, the Prime Minister told the residents that his government is conscious of the way the indigenous people were treated before and will not make that mistake.
“Though you are the first peoples of Guyana, you have suffered years of neglect and sometimes we would see an insulting attitude from those at the top in Governments before us. Officials of Governments before us fooled you and refused you, we don’t believe in any of that,” Prime Minister Nagamootoo stated.
The Prime Minister told the residents that his Government is merely 12 months in office and there are many problems and issues that have to be addressed and overcome. “We have to ask you to give us some time to put things in place to attend to those issues in your communities that should be attended to.”
Prime Minister Nagamootoo advised that one of the reasons for his visit to the region was to also visit the Iwokrama International Centre for Rainforest Conservation which is in need of funds for its sustainability.
“We are trying to develop the Iwokrama resort to attract new investors, to attract tourists to come, to attract people who can do agro-processing, who can open little factories, little industries so you can get jobs and you can find markets for your produce…if we develop Iwokrama into a base for tourism, your life here will also be improved,” the First Vice President explained.
The residents were then advised that the issue of communication is also critical to the developmental process of any community and nation. The Prime Minister explained that it was with this in mind that the first community radio station, Radio Paiwomak was established.
“We are going to try to improve the quality of communication from that radio station and to improve the reach to Surama and other communities, so that you can be a part of the integration of the coast and hinterland process,” the Prime Minister said.
He added that Radio Lethem and Radio Mabaruma 95.1 FM were also established to push the communication developmental agenda.
The Prime Minister stated, indigenous youths and others are being trained to become community broadcasters and, “we hope that in all our communities we would be able to have radio communication, television access, internet connections and you can be part and parcel of what is taking place in Guyana and the rest of the world.”
This, he said, is the vision of President David Granger, the coalition government and, “all of us in the government that we can bring improvement to your communities.”
The Prime Minister explained that his government is determined to bring development to the indigenous people and outlined a number of programmes for implementation. He cited as an example the Hinterland Employment Youth Service (HEYS) programme under which hundreds of youths are being trained in various skills in hinterland areas,
“So they can develop careers to further advance their lives and the development of their communities, so they can develop some skills and find jobs. We don’t believe you should be given handouts, as good as it is, everybody likes free money, we don’t believe you can develop a community by handing the people free monies all the time, we believe you have to train the people in a skill and when you are being trained you get a stipend.”
Additionally, Minister Allicock in his remarks, said that he was happy to be back in the community and, “to see you continue the good work we have all embarked upon, to creating greater economic strength in this community and the unity of the community in order to achieve a good life.”
Following the meeting with the residents, Prime Minister Nagamootoo presented a photograph taken in the community in 1996 with former Minister of Amerindian Affairs, Vibert De Souza, and the late former President Dr. Cheddi Jagan, himself, Minister Allicock and students during a visit. The photograph was received by Treasurer of the Community, Ms. Jacobs.