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Indigenous People’s Affairs Minister denies discrimination against Amerindians

Minister of Indigenous People’s Affairs, Sydney Allicock.

Minister of Indigenous Affairs, Sydney Allicock on Tuesday denied claims by the opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) that almost 2,000 Community Support Officers (CSO) have been fired, and announced that they would now be eligible for a stipend and skills training.

Allicock charged that the PPP’s claims are false and that party failed to tell the nation that while in government had allocated GUY$234.240 million that was approved for paying GUY$1,952 CSOs stipends from January to April, 2015.

“It is clear that the evidence that the former PPPC government has cut loose the CSO. The PPP had made no provision to pay them beyond April 2015,” he told the National Assembly in a statement.

The Minister of Indigenous People’s Affairs said under the new scheme, Amerindians would be able to earn a livelihood while receiving skills training. “We will bring an end to use of our young people for political purposes,” he said.

President David Granger on Tuesday announced , as part of a 10-point plan for hinterland development that a Hinterland Employment and Youth Service will replace the Youth Entrepreneurship and Apprenticeship Programme, which expired in April 2015. Under this programme a new scheme will be established that will provide sustainable jobs for youths in hinterland communities. “We do not wish to promote a culture of hand-outs. This is demeaning. We will ensure that although jobs are scarce young school leavers will be provided with skills to employ them for the world of work,” the President outlined. This initiative will also ensure that persons who were employed as Community Support Officers, (CSO) will be employed and continue to receive stipends.

Allicock rejected the PPP’s claims that government had embarked on ethnic discrimination by sacking the CSOs. He stressed that the CSOs could not have been sacked because they was never an employment arrangement with those persons who were part of a “red shirt brigade” for the PPP.

The President of The Amerindian Action Group of Guyana (TAAMOG), Peter Persaud, back by a battery of PPP lawyers, has sued government for GUY$10 million the association says is owed to the CSOs.