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Opposition hits back at Gov’t ‘lame excuse’, calls non-payment of grants to Wai-Wai students discriminatory
The Opposition, A Partnership For National Unity + Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC) sees the Ministry of Education’s response to non-payment of the cash grants to the Wai-Wai Nation as a “lame excuse and unacceptable.”
Mervyn Williams, a representative of the Indigenous Peoples, had accused the Government of treating the tribe with contempt. In his October 8th letter to the media he stated that there are one hundred and two (102) nursery and primary school pupils along with the thirteen (13) secondary school students in the community and their parents have not received the cash grants.
In July the Government announced it was paying to each school-aged child a one-off $30,000 cash grant touted under the slogan “Because we care.” The $5.8 Billion distribution, which was spearheaded by the Ministry of Education, ran for period August 2 to August 5.
Williams pointed out that as of October, even after officials of the Government visited the community on August 27, and made a promise to disburse payment before the new school year begins; a commitment that has not been honoured.
The Ministry of Education, responding to Williams, whilst acknowledging the non-payment and offering an apology, months later, blames the situation on non-availability of flights into the area. Public Relations Officer, Murtland Haley, in a letter to the press stated “during August 2022, no flights were willing to fly to the community due to bad weather except through the Guyana Defence Force. However, the GDF had indicated that their aircraft was under repairs and will most likely be fit for flying in October 2022.” The Opposition says the “apology rings hollow” and has rejected the explanations.
According to the APNU+AFC, “The Wai-Wai Village has Wi-Fi. Neither the Ministry nor the Regional Authorities saw it fit or necessary to communicate with the Village regarding this matter. The letter by Mervyn Williams exposed the PPP’s disregard for the Wai Wai nation, dashing the PPP’s hopes of getting away with its discrimination, division and vindictiveness.”
The Opposition also sees the Government’s act as political retaliation. “Beneath it still lurks the PPP’s obsession to punish those Guyanese who either rejected them or are likely to reject them at the polls.”