BREAKING: Govt to disburse funds directly to affiliates of Afro-Guyanese umbrella organisation

Last Updated on Friday, 14 April 2023, 17:06 by Denis Chabrol

In the wake of the collapse of talks between the Guyana government and the International Decade for People of African Descent- Guyana (IDPADA-G), the administration on Friday announced that it would go ahead and disburse the budgeted GY$100 million to affiliates of that organisation rather than to  the umbrella body.

“Government plans to disburse the 2023 subvention to 55 organisations representing Afro-Guyanese across the country, who are the founding members of the International Decade for People of African Descent Assembly-Guyana to pursue the objectives of the Decade,”  Attorney General Anil Nandlall said in a statement.

The Attorney General, in his statement, sought to justify the decision to hand out the 2023 allocation, saying that while part of the budgeted sum for the year 2022 is, unfortunately, the subject of legal proceedings, “the monies budgeted and appropriated for the year 2023 are not.”

That decision was announced after lawyers for IDPADA-G and the State informed the High Court that negotiations for the disbursement of the funds to IDPADA-G have broken down. Chief Justice Roxane George-Wiltshire agreed with IDPADA-G’s lawyer Dr Vivian Williams that the matter should not go to trial but the two parties would be allowed to make submissions and then have oral arguments on June 14, 2023.

When contacted later Thursday, Dr Williams stressed that the matter is before the court and already the High Court had received an undertaking  from the parties not to discuss the matter in public. “This is a breach of the undertaking given by the parties not to raise or address this matter with the media or the press generally,” he said. At the same time, he noted that the issue contained in Mr Nandlall’s release was not brought to the attention of the Court. “If I really look at the contents of the publication, if in fact it came from the government, then it also indicates an attempt to circumvent an earlier ruling of the Court and to that specific issue again I will not speak,”  he said.

The IDPADA-G lawyer said he and his client would await confirmation of the authenticity of the Attorney General’s statement, even as they urged government to “be careful not to pursue any strategy or any decision that would have the effect and intent to create division within people of African descent in Guyana.”

Dr Williams declined to say whether an injunction would be sought to block the disbursements.

The Guyana government said it remained committed to honouring the objectives of the International Decade for People of African Descent, which spans the period, 1 st January 2015 to 31st December 2024.

The Attorney General’s Chambers said that decade was proclaimed by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly in accordance with UN Resolution 68/237 of 2013 and was fully supported by the  Government of Guyana on 23 December 2013.

“As a demonstration of its commitment, the Government has allocated monies for the advancement of the objectives of the Decade since it assumed office in 2020, 2021, 2022, and 2023 and will continue to so do until the end of the Decade in 2024,” Mr Nandlall said.

IDPADA-G moved to the court earlier this year to challenge government’s decision on the grounds that over GYD$500 million disbursed so far had not reached a large number of African Guyanese. Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo is on record as accusing IDPADA-G of misusing the funds, a charge that has been vehemently denied and the subject of a defamation lawsuit brought by that entity’s chairman, Vincent Alexander, and engaging in political work for the opposition. IDPADA-G had said that it had assisted in field work to ensure that people benefitted from flood relief.