The National Toshao Council (NTC) Conference on Monday returned following a two-year hiatus owing to the coronavirus pandemic. The five-day event is being hosted under the theme “Good Governance and Fast Tracking Amerindian Development’’.
Some 200-community leaders from the ten administrative regions were in attendance at the event which was held at the Arthur Chung Convention Center.
President Dr Irfaan Ali, who was delivering his feature address, told indigenous leaders that this conference is not a ‘political forum’ but reminded that it was devised for indigenous leaders to address issues affecting their people in their communities.
In light of this, Dr. Ali urged the leaders to have a well-targeted discussion with the government and its officials.
“I say to you, do not be distracted, stay focused on what you’re here for, you’re here to represent the people of your community, you're here to advance and development of your community, you're here to work on a masterplan, on sharing your ideas with a government that is ready to work with you in implementation of those ideas." "Let us stay focus on that, let us have robust discussions, do not be afraid , let your views be made clear to the cabinet members."
He said the government is working under a singular umbrella body – the ‘One Guyana’ initiative, which will ensure every single Guyanese benefits from the government’s developmental agenda.
“In less than 2 years, when you take the current and capital expenditure, in less than two years, your government has invested more than $50B in Amerindian communities and Amerindian development.”
The Head of state said the access to potable water, over the last two years increased from 46% to 63% and by the end of this year, about 75% of people will have access to potable water.
By year-end, the government also intends to spend $2B in agriculture to ensure indigenous communities are food secure.
Dr. Ali urged the community leaders to come up with a Hinterland Food Security Plan as he noted that the government is willing to invest in this initiative. "Let us look at that. Let us spend some dedicated time coming up with that, so we can then work on defining the time frame, as to how and when we can together say the hinterland communities will be fully food secure, how that food would feed into the education programme of our children, how that food will feed into processing, how the excess food will feed into the rest of the market." "Those are the weighty conversations we are ready to have with you, those are the weighty discussions we are ready to have with you in advancing your livelihood and your life," Dr. Ali stressed.