IDPADA-G affiliates free to take gov’t cash “handout”; subsidy still a court matter- Alexander

Last Updated on Tuesday, 18 April 2023, 12:13 by Denis Chabrol

The 55 affiliate Afro-Guyanese organisations of the umbrella International Decade for People of African Descent Assembly- Guyana (IDPADA-G) have not been asked to refuse an estimated GY$100 million that have been budgeted for this year’s activities as part of the decade that ends in 2024, IDPADA-G Chairman Vincent Alexander said Tuesday.

“It is for them to decide, as individual organisations, whether they will take a cash grant from government and we will not be prodding them one way or the other. We will, however, be making it clear to them that what they are being offered has nothing to do with the subvention,” he told a news conference.

Mr Alexander, however, said that three of eight members of the coordinating council on Monday “gave unsolicited indications” that they would not take the money that the government intends to disburse to the affiliates on the basis that it is only money for 2022 that is the subject of a court case.

Asked whether IDPADA-G’s leadership was afraid that it would be unable to convince its affiliates that they should not take the money in solidarity with the position by the confederation’s executive, he said “we have not taken a position that we should tell our affiliates that as a matter of solidarity they should not take the money.” He said the cash is taxpayers’ money and they should understand that it is not the subvention which is before the court as a separate matter.

Attorney-at-Law Dr Vivian Williams explained that the two are separate issues. “What is before the court is a specific transaction between parties; the parties being IDPADA-G and the other named parties that are respondents to the case. There is nothing that is before the court that says one of the parties before the court can’t engage in any other similar transaction like any other number of other parties,” he said.

Mr Alexander said government’s move to distribute “grants” to individual organisations and juxtapose that to a subvention to IDPADA-G was to “interfere with the Country Coordinating Mechanism which is an cumulative response” to the United Nations Declaration of the Decade for People of African Descent. “There are disadvantages to an approach which seeks to divide the community rather than an approach that speaks to the collective community even as the individual organisations are allowed to pursue their own mandates,” he said.

As regards the conditionalities for cash grants to the affiliates, he said government would have to decide on the status of those organisations and their accountability systems. So far, government has not said what would be the conditions for giving those cash grants.

Attorney General Anil Nandlall on April 14, 2023 said 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.

Responding t0 government’s previ0us claims that a lot of the money was being spent on staff, he said workers were needed to execute tasks and it seemed that the administration’s intent was to ensure that “we don’t exist”. He recalled being accused of unsubstantiated claims of financial misdeeds after IDPADA-G had facilitated an advertisement for Cuffy250 to discuss an emerging apartheid state.

IDPADA-G has accused President Irfaan Ali of failing in his repeated promises to meet with that organisation, seemingly in line with his position at Mocha-Arcadia that he would meet with the people directly rather than their representatives.

The IDPADA-G’s General Assembly is expected to meet in the coming days.

IDPADA-G is the only such autonomous body in the Pan-African world which relates to the UN Permanent Forum for People of African Descent and the Working Group of Experts on the People of African Descent. In contrast, the governments in other countries have set up a state agency to observe the decade.