President Dr Irfaan Ali on Monday at the opening of the National Toshaos Council (NTC) Conference announced that the Indigenous Leaders and their Deputy Toshaos will get a 50% increase in their stipends.
Community leaders from all the 10 administrative regions will benefit from the increase. Toshaos will now be getting $45,000 an increase from $30,000 while Deputy Toshaos will receive $30,000 an increase from $20,000.
Indigenous Community Senior Councillors and all Regional Democratic Councillors (RDCs) from the administrative regions will also receive an increase of $15,000 to $25,000; and $10,000 to $30,000 respectively.
“And just to avoid a barrage of letters in the newspapers, because you know when we give the $25,000 for hinterland and riverine communities, you won’t believe the amount of letters I have received. Let me be clear on this, in order to continue to improve our systems to make people, more accountable, and keeping with what we have committed to do, every single regional councillor [Regional Democratic Councillor] in the administrative regions of this country, will see an improvement in their stipend from $10,000 to $30,000,” the Head of state announced.
Following the announcement, MTV News Update spoke with some of the community leaders at the event to get their reaction on the 50% increase.
While some community leaders praised the government for the increased stipend, others expressed disappointment. Andre Linday, Toshao of Sand Hill, Upper Berbice River said, “Well we feel real grateful because the stipend that we was getting […] the amount of work that Toshaos got to do and then the travelling, the $30,000 couldn’t even carry you on a one trip and thing, so we feel grateful for that.”
"I think that it is a very good idea that they raise it because.. we does find it difficult then because when you become a Toshao you can't really go no where else and work, you understand, and that lil $30,000 that them use to give we, that was not enough [...] $45,000 is not enough but it gone be better than before," Riley Henry a Toshao of Kamwatta Village, Mabaruma Sub District added.
Riley Joseph, a Toshao for one of the communities in Deep South Rupununi, Region 9 told MTV News Update, "I wanted lil more high [...] because the Toshaos working everyday, sometimes you never sleep good or you never sleep, almost like you never satisfy just thinking about work and you never see your family, is every day work."
Noel Domingo also stated, "The stipend too little bit for me because I really does work in my community hard towards my people, I does be up and down in the village...the money too little bit.
Meanwhile, President Ali assured that they will get the $5000 increase not now, but in the future.