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Jobs for fired CSOs is “damage control,” Amerindian Act was violated- PPP’s Yvonne Pearson

Yvonne Pearson

Opposition member of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) Yvonne Pearson has described the government’s move to devise a new program to accommodate almost 2000 “fired” Community Support Officers (CSOs) in Hinterland villages as “damage control.”

Making her virgin speech in the National Assembly Wednesday August 19, Pearson slammed the government for trying to dismantle what she said the PPP-government has done for Amerindian communities, and in general, denying the positive development the country made under the former administration.

She said it is as a result of the PPP that she is able to speak in the National Assembly free of fear and intimidation, something not permitted years ago. “Democracy was returned in 1992. Don’t let us doubt that,” she demanded of the government.

Pearson accused the government of having discussions about finding jobs for the CSOs a day before they announced that the former Youth Entrepreneurship and Apprenticeship Program (YEAP) under the former administration will be replaced with the Hinterland Employment and Youth Service (HEYS) under the new government come September 1.

The Minister of Indigenous People’s Affairs Sydney Allicock told the Assembly Wednesday that the opposition was misleading the nation on the matter of the CSOs since there was no provision for the YEAP program to continue after April 30, 2015 and that the program was a political gimmick with the former government approving money for the program two months before elections, but payment was retroactive to January, 2015.

Pearson said that the government promised jobs for young people, but it appeared that the Amerindian youths were not included. “This discussion was made yesterday to rehire the CSOs… it is damage control,” she insisted.

Pearson accused the Indigenous Affairs Minister of breaking the law. She said he did not adhere to the Amerindian Act 2006 when observers were not sent to Village and District Council’s election… “It is a breach of the law and the rights of our people,” she charged.

She said too that regulations were also not adhered to since notice for the National Toshaos Council (NTC) is supposed to be published in one public newspaper, one month in advance of the Council, but “this was not done.”

To this, the opposition members charged the government with rigging the NTC elections. Pearson questioned if such actions are being done by the government already, “what next.” She said if this is the government’s fresh approach, “then it is unacceptable.”

The opposition member said “there is nothing fresh” in the 2015 budget. She said that the budget had nothing about the Hinterland electrification program and the Presidential development grant that is given to the Hinterland communities annually.

She said while the one laptop per family program was scrapped for the one teacher per laptop initiative, 100 Amerindian accommodations were set for laptops. She asked what would happen to those families up for laptops. She questioned whether they are paying; 80 percent of the Amerindian community, for throwing their support behind the PPP.