Afro-Guyanese organisation asks Attorney General for meeting on end of cash support

Last Updated on Monday, 6 February 2023, 12:04 by Denis Chabrol

Left to right: IDPADA-G’S Chief Executive Officer Olive Sampson, Chairman Vincent Alexander and lawyer Nigel Hughes

The International Decade for People of African Descent Assembly- Guyana (IDPADA-G) on Monday formally asked government to hold talks on the withdrawal of a multi-million dollar annual  subsidy which was scrapped last year.

Chairman of IDPADA-G, Vincent Alexander said his organisation dispatched a letter to Attorney General Anil Nandlall, as the government representative, asking for dialogue with the aim of getting the monies released.

IDPADA-G’s Chief Executive Officer Olive Sampsom calculates that from September 2022 to February 2023, government owes the organisation an estimated GY$49 million. Officials said the organisation was relying on local and Diaspora donations to carry out some of its work especially to help residents of Mocha, East Bank Demerara where their houses were demolished. Despite the end of the subsidy, Mr Alexander said IDPADA-G was not crippled. “We are not crippled, we are handicapped,” he said.

The idea of a type of mediation was floated by Chief Justice Roxane George-Wiltshire during hearing of a court case challenging government’s decision to withhold subsidies to IDPADA-G on the grounds that ordinary Afro-Guyanese have not benefitted from previous subsidies.

IDPADA-G’s lawyer, Nigel Hughes said the letter to the Attorney General has no impact on the court case. “It is hoped that the Attorney General will act with some form of alacrity…It is an unconditional invitation to engage,” he said.

At that court hearing, according to Mr Alexander, he said the Attorney General stated that monies have been voted in the 2023 budget but government did not know who to give it to.

Before IDPADA-G last year challenged the cancelation of the subsidy, Mr Alexander said several efforts had been made to seek meetings with Culture Minister Charles Ramson and President Irfaan Ali but with no success.

He noted that Public Works Minister Juan Edghill had announced that government would be training small contractors to bid for contracts, an activity that IDPADA-G had been engaged. Such training had lasted five days.

IDPADA-G, which is made up of 65 organisations and is registered as a not-for-profit entity, was established under the Coalition-led government to further the goals of the United Nations-designated International Decade for People of African Descent.

Research shows the Afro-Guyanese community needs assistance in training in entrepreneurship, small business development, irrigation and education.