APNU/AFC Govt takes 1 year to issue 1 Amerindian land title

first_img… Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs Minister calls it worryingThe coalition A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Administration is woefully behind schedule when it comes to the Amerindian Land titling project.Former Amerindian Affairs Minister Pauline SukhaiIndigenous Peoples’ Affairs Minister Sydney AllicockIndigenous Peoples’ Affairs Minister Sydney Allicock, made the disclosure on Wednesday when he appeared before the Standing Parliamentary Sectoral Committee on Natural Resources, chaired by People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) member, Odinga Lumumba.In fact, Allicock, who also holds the Ministerial portfolio for Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, told the Committee that the situation was very worrying and cause for concern.The work of the Ministry is lagging so far behind that the APNU/AFC Administration has only been able to complete the land titling process for one community during the one year it has been in office.He said that of the 68 communities that had been earmarked for land titling to be completed, only 18 have been completed and this was accomplished since the most of the preliminary works for those villages would have already been completed by the previous Government.Minister Allicock said the situation “is now a worry for all of us.”According to Allicock, the delays were in large part due to the need for ‘Free, Prior and informed Consent’ on the part of the communities before the process could be completed.Former Minister with responsibility for the sector, Pauline Sukhai, chided Minister Allicock over the substantial delays in the land titling project and said Government would have failed to deliver to the Amerindian people on their commitment to once and for all bring closure to outstanding land issues.Sukhai told the Committee, like the Minister, she too was concerned over the inordinately long delays.The former Minister, at one point in time, was upbraided by the Committee Chairperson, since Sukhai accused the Vice President of being untruthful to the Committee. The answers provided by the technical persons, seemed to point to logistics being one of the main problems for the delays in the land titling project, instead of the reasons proffered by Minister Allicock.Committee Chair, Lumumba used the opportunity to suggest to Allicock that since the project had been suffering from such extended delays, an extension may have to be requested from Parliament.Allicock in turn informed the Committee that the Ministry is currently in discussion with its donor partner, the United Nations Development Fund (UNDP) and will soon be approaching the National Assembly for an extension for the project.Allicock told the Committee members that among the issues affecting the process, relates to overlapping issues with mining blocks and forestry operations which led Lumumba to suggest the formation of a mutually agreeable body between stakeholders in an effort to resolve outstanding issues, since a judicial recourse would see the matters being tied up in the courts for years.There was also the suggestion that one of the primary reasons for the lengthy delays in the land titling, had to do with the fact that the Ministry was in fact investigating the works undertaken by the previous Administration, instead of forging ahead with the project at hand.This was denied by the Minister’s technical advisors, who instead suggested that the work done by the previous Administration was in fact taken on board by the current Administration.Not satisfied with the answers being presented to the Committee by Minister Allicock and team, at least one Opposition member opted to walk out of the Committee meeting and could be overheard calling the exercise a waste of time.Opposition PPP/C Committee Member Neendkumar, took umbrage to the fact that Minister Allicock’s answers seemingly contradicts answers provided by members of the technical team.Meanwhile, Sukhai, in an invited comment, told Guyana Times following the end of the session, that she was not at all fully satisfied with the pace with which the land titling project was continuing and in fact suggested that this has occurred because the current Administration had fired the entire unit that held responsibility for the project under the previous Administration.According to Sukhai, it is disappointing that the Administration was gearing to host another National Toshaos Conference and would have been unable to complete any substantial work with respect to land titling.She is adamant that the PPP/C Administration, while in office, had left a solid platform for the coalition Government to build on.“But of course when you are going to remove the entire technical team, obviously you will have a second gestation period,” Sukhai posited.The removal of persons from that unit, according to Sukhai, inherently resulted in the loss of institutional capacity and technical knowledge in the area.She acknowledged that while this move, on the part of the Administration, cannot be considered as the primary reason for the substantial delay in the project, it is certainly one of the key reasons.Sukhai suggested too that the Ministry might have been preoccupied in revisiting works which the current Administration would have believed was not done up to standard.last_img read more

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