IDPADA-G, govt seem set for talks on withdrawn multi-million dollar subsidy

Last Updated on Monday, 27 February 2023, 16:53 by Denis Chabrol

The High Court on Monday gave the International Decade for People of African Descent Assembly- Guyana (IDPADA-G) and the Guyana government were given more time to discuss proposals concerning the release of more than GY$49 million in subvention for that organisation.

Government last year ceased providing the subsidy, saying that there was no evidence that African Guyanese had benefitted from the almost GY$500 million that had been provided to IDPADA-G since its formation.

Chief Justice Roxane George-Wiltshire has set March 23, 2023 at 10 AM for the next court hearing by which time the parties are expected to hold discussions under the rubric of Alternative Dispute Resolution or possibly mediation.

Attorney General Anil Nandlall told the Court that he was optimistic that government’s proposals would lead to an end of the court case brought by IDPADA-G. “I’ve received certain instructions from the minister which I would like an opportunity to convey to Mr Hughes and his client and I believe it should go a far way in bringing this matter to a resolution,” he said. Ms George-Wiltshire, in response, remarked that, “I’m very glad to hear.”

Attorney-at-Law Nigel Hughes, representing IDPADA-G, told the court that in response to his letter dated February 6, 2023 to Attorney General Anil Nandlall requesting a discussion, he only received a response last Saturday afternoon suggesting a time to meet. Mr Hughes said he has been busy with trials but at the same time he has filed an affidavit in reply.

Chief Justice Roxane George-Wiltshire, who earlier this month suggested that the two sides hold talks, welcomed the move. “Well that is some progress, I would consider it. At least there was that overture,” she said.

Mr Nandlall admitted that he responded “unfortunately” last Saturday and made two attempts to reach Mr Hughes on Monday but he was busy in the Assizes.

The Chief Justice stopped short of issuing a gag order to block the parties from writing letters or stating anything else in the media on the matter. “So long as the matter is engaging the attention of the Court, I think to allow that process to be completed, I’d prefer if the parties not speak about the matter in whatever form or fashion,” she said.

Justice George-Wiltshire hoped that the “positivity continues in the interest of all” and “in the interest of the image of our beloved country.”

Mr Hughes said he had the names of four persons from which the mediator could be picked, but the judge advised him not to name them in open court. But the Attorney General agreed with the judge that the parties pursue that matter without a mediator. “The parties are sufficiently circumstanced to see the reasonableness of both sides and bring this matter to an end; that’s my honest view,” he said.

The Chief Justice feared that if Mr Hughes named the quartet, that could trigger an unnecessary public debate about their acceptability. “That will be most unfortunate,” she said.

IDPADA-G’s legal team includes New York-based Guyanese lawyer, Dr Vivian Williams.

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.