Vice President and Minister of Indigenous Affairs, Sydney Allicock on Wednesday shot down claims by the Opposition, People’s Progressive Party that the government has dismissed 1,972 Community Support Officers in the Hinterland regions.
Minister Allicock said the government has not fired or dismissed the Community Support Officers but the last PPP government which left office in May did not cater for any of the officers beyond April, 2015.
He said “the former PPP government had made no financial allocation for the CSO’s beyond April 2015. By Cabinet decision, dated March 18, 2015, the sum of $234,240, 000 was approved for 1,952 Community Support Officers as stipend for the period January to April 2015.”
Allicock said based on the evidence, it is clear that the former PPP government had long decided to cut loose the CSOs.
“The CSOs need to know that the PPP regime had made no provision to pay them stipends beyond April, 2015”.
The Minister explained that the Amerindian youths who were hired as CSOs had no contracts and were not treated as public servants either. He said the PPP government provided no guarantee to employment or legal protection for them.
“All they were offered on a periodic basis was a stipend of $30,000 each month without stipulation that the stipend was being paid to persons engaged in training for a specific period”, Minister Allicock added.
Allicock announced that the government will now establish “the Hinterland Employment and Youth Service and all former Community Support Officers will be eligible to be enlisted for training to receive relevant skills so as to enable them to earn an income in the pursuit of sustainable livelihoods and as a means to enjoying the good life.”
The new initiative is intended to train thousands of young people while paying them a stipend. The Indigenous Affairs Minister said the government will bring an end to the abuse of young people for political purposes.
The PPP had claimed that the new government had fired the officers.