The Coalition Government’s 2019, policy thrust for the more than 215 indigenous villages and communities is aimed towards improving “access to quality education, adequate physical infrastructure, quality health care and creating an enabling environment for technical/vocational and life skills, and entrepreneurial and business management competencies,” Minister of Finance Winston Jordan said.
During his 2019 Budget presentation, the Finance Minister told the House that the Government in supporting interventions towards this thrust has set aside $89.4Million to support the education and training of the hinterland people.
He explained that this includes provision for uniforms and transportation, “which will directly impact the lives of 33,908 hinterland students helping to bridge the gap between coastal and hinterland access to quality education.”
Meanwhile, the Government’s 2019 support to the Hinterland Employment and Youth Service (HEYS) programme is valued $176.1 Million. This intervention covers support to allow the hinterland youths to launch their micro-enterprises into vibrant economic activities.
Also, to come on stream in 2019 is the flagship Hinterland Green Enterprise Development Centre, at Bina Hill. The facility will be completed, next year. Two dormitories have been completed and are expected to house 120 students. In tandem, the Government will be constructing a food processing facility at Bina Hill. “This facility will conduct the postharvest processing of the famous purple potato and other nutritional tubers like yams,” Minister Jordan explained.
Further, the Institute of Applied Sciences and Technology (IAST) will provide assistance in training residents in the utilisation of the technical machinery as well as conduct further processing into value-added products. These initiatives, the Finance Minister said, “will further mould the skills needed to develop Bina Hill and surrounding communities.”
Other allocations towards the Hinterland development in 2019 include $210 Million to sustain the hinterland people’s festivities. These include the Heritage Pageant, Rupununi Rodeo, Rupununi Music and Arts Festival and Upper Mazaruni district games.
During the year, the Government will also prioritise working with 31 villages to complete their Sustainable Village Improvement and continue consultation on the revision of the Amerindian Act.
According to Minister Jordan, in 2018, the first series of regional consultations on the revision of the Act saw engagement with stakeholders in 11 indigenous villages in the Moruca Sub-Region, South Central Rupununi, Deep South Rupununi, Upper Mazaruni and the Region 2 communities. Consultations were also had with the communities of Regions 3, 4, 5 and 6.
He said, in 2019, the Government will continue these consultations in 59 Villages, covering Regions 7, 8, 9 and 10, will target another 590 persons.