IDPADA-G, govt seem on verge of settlement for release of funds- lawyers tell High Court

Last Updated on Friday, 24 March 2023, 16:08 by Denis Chabrol

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

Lawyers for the International Decade for People of African Descent Assembly-Guyana (IDPADA-G) and the State on Friday informed the High Court that they are on the brink of deal that could see the release of millions of dollars in a budgeted government subvention to the organisation that aims to improve the conditions of Afro-Guyanese.

Attorney-at-Law Dr Vivian Williams told the court that he was pleased to report that the parties had a proposed settlement meeting on Monday, March 20, 2023 and the government, through the Attorney General “reaffirmed commitment to support” IDPADAG for the remainder of the decade which ends in 2024. “It was agreed that that pledge, support would be demonstrated by government providing the subvention which was provided in the past,” Dr Williams said.

So far, government has not released more than GY$50 million in subsidy to that entity which says it is the umbrella for many Afro-Guyanese organisations.

He said the two sides examined when the disbursement would begin and Attorney General Anil Nandlall had promised to review a proposal that was dispatched on Tuesday. However, Dr Williams said the Mr Nandlall did not respond to the three-component proposal by Thursday.

State Counsel, Shoshanna Lall told the court that Mr Nandlall was overseas on official government business and has since dispatched the proposal to Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport Charles Ramson. She confirmed that the two sides have agreed that the funds would be released for activities for the UN-designated decade but the details are yet to be finalised. “There is a commitment in principle to honour the work of the International Decade for People, activities for the International Decade so we’re on consensus on that matter. I think it’s just a matter of the mechanism for the disbursement that we have to discuss with the other side,” she said.

Attorney-at-Law, Vivian Williams.

Dr Williams supported the State’s request for two weeks on condition that the two sides could reach agreement on the mechanism during that time.

Chief Justice Roxane George-Wiltshire remarked that if the case has to go trial, it would not begin until the last quarter of 2023. “If this is going to trial, it’s not going to trial in a hurry. My diary is very full. The earliest date that will be possible is October this year… It’s just a reality of what is happening here at the court,” she said.

The parties have to return to court on April 14, 2023 at 11 AM for report.

IDPADA-G was established under the David Granger-led administration to observe the United Nations-designated International Decade for People of African Descent, but last year the People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC)-led administration stopped releasing funds, charging that the monies were not meeting ordinary Afro-Guyanese and the directors of that incorporated entity were benefitting personally. Those accusations have been repeatedly rejected by IDPADA-G, and government’s check of the financial records and audit of that entity have not uncovered any irregularities.

Attorney General Nigel Hughes is also representing IDPADA-G.