The government-owned and controlled Guyana Chronicle recently carried a story announcing the grant of $6.5 million to 130 Rupununi youths involved in the APNU+AFC sponsored Hinterland Employment Youth Service (HEYS) Programme.
According to the story, youths were drawn from eleven villages in South Central Rupununi and eight in the Karasabai district.
The 130 youths are the second, and probably the last cohort to benefit from the HEYS Programme.
The Programme was launched in 2016. It replaced the Community Support Officers (CSO’s) Programme initiated by the PPP/C administration. That Programme involved over two thousand Amerindian youths across the entire Region 9.
Bread was taken from the mouths of the thousands of CSO’s when they were dismissed summarily on the assumption of the APNU+AFC to office.
CSO’s were provided with technical training to assist their respective Village Councils implement
developmental projects for the advancement of their village economies.
The APNU+AFC sponsored HEYS Programme is aimed at enhancing the academic skills of the participants and later, to provide them with financial resources for a small projects or existing businesses of their own.
According to reliable sources, persons selected to function as administrators and facilitators for the HEYS Pro-gramme were hand-picked personally by Valerie Garrido-Lowe, Minister in the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs.
Concerns have been expressed that neither of the two positions were publicly advertised thus denying suitably qualified persons from applying for, and possibly securing employment in one of the two positions.
But what was even more scandalous was the fact that in the 2018 Auditor General’s Report it was stated that of the $120 million budgeted for the 2017/2018 Programme, a whopping $60 million could not be accounted for. Nothing further was heard from government about the non-accountability.
Questions have also arisen in connection with the $60 million IAST/GOG sponsored tomatoes project at Port Kaituma which continues to experience difficulties principally due to the cost of production.
It is alleged that the $20 per pound being offered by IAST is insufficient to cover production and other related costs when compared to the more attractive $200 per pound being offered to farmers by other interested parties.
Clement J. Rohee