Amerindian land titling …32 extension applications pendingFollowing concerns of the Opposition People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) that the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Government has been dragging its feet over Indigenous land titling, it has been disclosed that only five demarcations have been completed under the current Administration. This number is in disparity with the overall 93 villages that have been demarcated overall.Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs Minister Sydney Allicock made this admission via written responses to the Opposition in the National Assembly last week. Allicock also admitted that some 32 villages have pending applications for extensions.Minister Allicock had previously revealed that only 26 per cent of the Amerindian Land Titling Project had been completed.This prompted members of the PPP/C side of the House to call out the Government for being unable to issue new land titles since taking office in 2015. In the written responses presented by the subject minister, he revealed that US$2.9 million out of a US$10.7 million agreement for the implementation of the Amerindian Land Titling and Demarcation Project was spent. This project, which concluded in 2016, came under the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS).Allicock further outlined that US$1.4 million or 53 per cent of expenditure was spent on demarcation while another 43 per cent was spent on grievance redress mechanisms, information management and project management. However, it was during a sitting before members of the Parliamentary Sectoral Committee on Natural Resources in May when the subject Minister observed that no new titles or extensions were issued. As such, the PPP/C asked the Minister how many communities applied for titles or extensions and he responded that only five demarcations were completed under Government’s tenure.These included a 2015 application for Batavia, which was completed in 2016, and completed demarcations of Tuseneng, Chinoweing and Paramakatoi, as well as Four Miles, which had been in the process of being demarcated. When further questioned on those communities awaiting demarcation during the period under review, the Opposition was told that 10 villages have not been demarcated. Minister Allicock’s explanation was that consent was not provided by these villages.He also noted that some 32 villages have applied for extensions to their original demarcated areas while six villages have applied for recognition to be demarcated as village entities. In total, 93 villages have been demarcated. The Minister said in his written responses that as time progressed, each demarcation case would become “more difficult and complex”, since mining concessions which were allocated over time have infringed on “rights, title and interests” of the Indigenous.Questioned on how the remaining funds for the project will be allocated, Allicock said that the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) sent an intermediate extension request for December 31, 2018 to the Ministry of the Presidency to allow for consultation. Members of the National Assembly were also told that stakeholder consultations started with the Ministry; Indigenous Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs); UNDP and the National Toshaos Council (NTC) on October 11 to chart the way forward and determine, among other things, the extension deadline.The Kingdom of Norway provided the US$10.7 million for the project in 2013 under the PPP/C Government for the project.The NTC has repeatedly criticised Government for failing to issue the titles, although Government had said that it needed an extension on the life of the project. Opposition Member of Parliament and former Amerindian Affairs Minister Pauline Sukhai had argued strongly that from the information provided on the project, it seemed that the land titling process was at a standstill. Allicock had denied that the Government was dragging its feet on the matter.