Within minutes of President David Granger recommending the establishment of a five member Authority to report on and implement policies on Indigenous affairs, Former Amerindian Affairs Minister under the PPP, Pauline Sukhai rejected the recommendation and said such a move would be an attempt to usurp the independence of the National Toshaos Council (NTC).
Sukhai attended the opening of the 10th annual National Toshaos Conference on Monday along with Opposition Parliamentarian and former Permanent Secretary Nigel Dharamlall and PPP MP Yvonne Pearson.
She challenged the President’s recommendation and said it not only usurps the function of NTC but also that of the Ministry of Indigenous People’s Affairs.
President Granger reasoned that there is need for the Ministry of Indigenous People’s Affairs to be gloved with the authority to act decisively and deal with the issues affecting Amerindians.
“I don’t see independence in that. What I believe should be happening is that there is need for support for empowering and training indigenous people,” Sukhai said.
The former Minister speculated that any establishment of another authority would lend to interference.
“How would you be establishing a five man committee when there is the established Ministry with two Ministers and highly technical staff and also you have the NTC. The NTC is an independent body,” Sukhai added.
Last evening, Toshaos and elected Amerindian Leaders attending the conference met with the political opposition.
While some said this was never allowed to happen under the PPP administration, Sukhai insisted that there was always scope and support for Amerindians to grow and act on their own.
She said there was no handcuffing of the NTC under the PPP.
Sukhai said it is worrisome that after a year in government, not a single title was issued or demarcation completed under the coalition government.
“It worries me when the President will say Amerindians control 14% of Guyana’s land mass, larger than four regions put together, but nothing is being done. It is something to think about and I do hope the NTC will place emphasis on this message,” she added.