…as legal, procedural matters remain major bugbearAs the issue of land demarcation took centre stage on Wednesday, at the 2018 National Toshoa Council (NTC) conference being held at the Arthur Chung Convention Centre, representatives of the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission (GLSC) gave its assurance that the matter is being aggressively looked at.Secretariat Manager at GLSC, Durwin Humphrey said that there may be the need for revision of the laws relating to lands governance and the commission is currently working on it. He admitted that it has been a recurring issue and it is hoped that these matters could be addressed in due course.“We have several procedures and legal issues as it relates to Amerindian land titling. We have to ensure that proper investigations are carried out prior to demarcation. We have been seeing issues where proper investigations were not conducted, however, not by GLSC,” he explained.However, as a result of an inadequacy in the system for land titling, the GLSCSecretariat Manager at GLSC, Durwin Humphreyhave started with a review of the legislation and have also put forward recommendations to improve the system.“And we have begun to see some improvements already. We have a few villages which we will be working with this year and hopefully, we could get those matters resolved,” he added.But Humphrey said he still believed that one of the solutions to the problem could have been the initiation of a Lands Commission of Inquiry (COI), which according to him, is still on the table.According to him, the GLSC functions with a combination of the Amerindian Act of 2006 – which has a reference made to the State Lands Act under which title is granted and the Survey Special Provision Act which deals with the demarcation of lands prior to land title.Humphrey said the commission is determined on working in accordance with the Constitution of Guyana thereby avoid conflict. Presently under the State Lands Act, there are several regulations which detail the rights and privileges enjoyed by Indigenous communities.At the opening of the conference on Monday, the immediate past Chairman of the NTC Chairman Joel Fredericks had blasted Government for a number of unfulfilled promises. According to Fredericks, the indigenous peoples of Guyana were promised a number of things, such as the revision of the Amerindian Act of 2006; Constitutional reform, and land titling.The coalition Government has failed to issue new land titles since taking office in 2015. Indigenous Peoples Affairs Minister, Sydney Allicock had previously admitted that only 26 per cent of the Amerindian Land Titling (ALT) Project has been completed.The minister told the Parliamentary Natural Resources Committee recently that the ALT work programme, which commenced in 2013, would require another decade before it could be completed, although the project’s life comes to an end in October 2018.According to Minister Allicock, only about 25 per cent of the total US$10 million earmarked for the project has thus far been utilised– some Gy$500 million, or US$2.5 million.The Government had, in 2013, signed a US$10.7 million agreement for implementation of the Amerindian Land Titling and Demarcation Project, which concluded in 2016. However, an extension was requested in 2017, resulting in $165 million being earmarked for advancing of the remaining identified areas.So far, 13 communities have applied for absolute grants for the first time. Of that number, seven have received approval, and six have been demarcated. Out of 23 communities, 14 have been issued with certificates of title; but there has so far been not one single community that has received a title under this Government.The ALT Project seeks to achieve three major goals: completion of land titling issues and demarcation process for all Amerindian villages that submitted requests; increased use of existing and alternative mechanisms to resolve land titling disputes; and completion of a communication strategy, including a handbook describing the process of titling, demarcation, and the social economic impact of secure land tenure.The project is being financed from the Guyana REDD+ Investment Fund (GRIF) which came into being under the People’s Progressive Party/Civic’s (PPP/C’s) Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS).