Government to increase number of Native American community service officers by 500

The government has announced it will increase the number of community service workers (CSOs) under the Youth Entrepreneurship and Apprenticeship Program (YEAP) in Native American communities by 500, bringing the total to 2,500. .

Finance Minister Dr. Ashni Singh announced the measure on Wednesday as part of the 2022 budget, where he explained that $60 million has been allocated to train 650 CSOs across the ten administrative regions of the country. Guyana to serve in areas such as tourism and hospitality; development of business plans; preconditions for food security; good manufacturing practices; repairs and licenses of ATVs and outboard motors; as well as the construction of clothing.

These CSOs would be based in 220 communities.

“Through these interventions, this administration will continue to drive employment and opportunity for our young Native Americans…in 2021, $666.5 million was spent in stipends to hire 2,000 Community Service Officers (CSOs) as part of of the Youth Entrepreneurship and Apprenticeship Program, and another $115.6 million was spent on training 420 CSOs in areas such as ICT, tractor driving, licensing and l ‘interview ; and installation and maintenance of solar panels,” Singh explained.

In the 2021 budget, the government supported the rehiring of the 2,000 CSOs who were laid off under the UNPA+AFC government after the initiative dissolved. CSOs receive an allocation of $30,000 according to the latest budget.

He said the government is committed to ensuring that all Guyanese are full participants in the economic transformation currently taking place in the country, adding that the administration is aware of the unique challenges faced by Native Americans, especially those remote communities.

“We are committed to ensuring that Native American and hinterland villages are economically self-sufficient, first and foremost through the land titling program and second through the development of the village economy. We are also committed to ensuring that all the best educational and training opportunities in the country are as available to our brothers and sisters in the hinterland as they are to those on the coast. And, we are committed to ensuring that the quality of social services provided to all villages is significantly improved,” he promised.

The Minister of Finance indicated that five demarcations have been completed in 2021 and that title certificates are being issued to the different communities. He informed that the village of Capoey on the Essequibo coast is the first of five villages to receive his title. Singh further said that this year the government will continue to work to fast-track the Indigenous Community Land Titles Program to the tune of $561.6 million. This would support the issuance of 20 additional certificates of title.

As part of the 2022 budget, $3.1 billion was allocated to major Native American development programs. This, along with key investments across all sectors, will pave the way for rapid improvement in well-being in our Native American and backcountry villages, the minister said.

Under the Sustainable Outback Livelihoods Program, the government has spent $673 million on tractors, implements and economic projects aimed at improving the development of agriculture, tourism, women and youth in 2021. This saw some 112 tractors and trailers along with tools distributed to Native Americans. communities to help promote village agriculture as well as for use in transportation.

This year, the program would continue with the injection of an additional $411.2 million.

“…this will result in 71 additional communities benefiting in the same way, bringing the total number of communities to 183 since this government took office. Additionally, to improve connectivity, $3.4 billion is budgeted for the hinterland roads program,” Singh said.

The Auditor General’s report for 2020 flagged the Department of Native American Affairs for the Sustainable Backcountry Livelihoods Program and specifically for supply shortfalls related to tractors. The AG had found that the department had purchased 112 Mahindra tractors and trailers from sole source on the grounds that market research had found it to be the most economical of its type.

The GA report says Cabinet granted ‘no objection’ on 30th December 2020 for the award of a contract worth $446.880 million for the supply and delivery of 112 tractors and trailers for Native American villages and communities.

“The award was made using the single-source method of supply on the basis that market research has revealed that Mahindra tractors are the most economical tractors on the market with all four wheel drive and 75 horsepower required for the development in Native American communities/villages,” the report said.

Jill E. Washington