No request received for extension of consultations
--Amerindian Affairs Ministry

Guyana Chronicle
November 9, 2002

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THE Ministry of Amerindian Affairs has said that it is concerned about an article appearing in the ‘Stabroek News’ of Saturday, November 2, 2002 captioned "Revision of the Amerindian Act -- Region Two Touchaus want more time for community consultations".

In a press release dated November 5, 2002, the Ministry said it wishes to make very clear that it is not in receipt of any formal request for extension of time for community consultations.

The release continued: “It should also be noted that discussions were held with some Touchaus including one from Region Two, and Amerindian organisations, inter alia, with respect to time allocated for each section of the process for the revision of the Amerindian Act. It was the result of the consultations that three months was agreed upon for the local facilitators to do community consultations. Region Two, unlike Regions One, Seven, Eight and Nine, has a total of nine Amerindian communities that are quite accessible, and three local facilitators. In other words, each facilitator will work with three communities for three months in explaining the existing Act before recommendations are made. Unless there are profound hindrances, the allocated time is considered adequate. If unforeseen difficulties are being encountered, solutions can only be found if those difficulties are communicated directly with the Ministry, rather than via the press.

“Interestingly, the Minister of Amerindian Affairs held a meeting with the Captains and some Councillors of Region Two, on Friday, November 1, 2002 (one day before the article was published) at the Charity Extension Centre, to discuss various issues. None of the captains indicated that the time allocated for community consultations was inadequate, neither (did) the facilitators. Furthermore, some communities in other Regions have already signalled their readiness to start making their recommendations, long before the date assigned for the activity. It is therefore rather surprising that such an article is published in the ‘Stabroek News’. Once more, the Ministry wishes to advise those persons who are trying to thwart the process of the revision of the Amerindian Act to refrain from such activities since it could only harm the progress being made so far by both the communities and the Ministry.

"It will also be appreciated if the media houses can seek the opinion of the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs on matters such as these, before publishing. Finally, the revision of the Amerindian Act has been requested for a very long time and various persons and organisations have made several recommendations. As such, for the most part this is not something that is now being introduced to communities," the statement concluded.

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