Controversy erupted last week when Guyana’s Vice-President, Bharrat Jagdeo accused members of the International Decade for People of African Descent Assembly-Guyana (IDPADA-G) of giving a pittance to Afro-Guyanese despite receiving close to half a billion dollars in government subvention.
The allegation is not sitting well with IDPADA-G members, particularly the Chairman, Dr Vincent Alexander, an opposition-nominated Commissioner at the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), who is now defending the organisation’s handling of the monies. Jagdeo’s revelation is a reaction to IDPADA-G greenlighting an anti-apartheid forum slated for earlier this month.
The VP took umbrage at the fact that there is no emergence of an apartheid state here, saying that his government is essentially doling out millions each year to an entity that is run by opposition elements determined to create a false impression that Black Guyanese are facing discrimination.
During a press conference last week, the VP – a former Finance Minister and Head of State – said that a private limited liability company was established under the International Decade for People of African Descent Assembly. This company, according to him, received $68M in 2018, $100M in 2019, $100 in 2020, $100M in 2021, and $100M in 2022.
Reading from the entity’s 2020 Financial Statement, Jagdeo said that while $42M alone was paid in salaries and allowances, $2.8M in travelling and transportation expenses, only $343,000 in grants were distributed to Afro-Guyanese.
He accused the officials of enriching themselves rather than advancing the cause of the Black community. “They are using Afro-Guyanese just for their own personal benefits,” he said.
Dr Alexander, during a press conference today, said that the financial statements quoted by Jagdeo were actually submitted at the behest of the government mere hours before the VP spoke at this press conference. He contends that the information was misused to “discredit IDPADA-G and vilify its leadership”.
He said that IDPADA-G is a “not-for-profit company”, whose directors are volunteers. The Chairman added that the payments of salaries cited by Jagdeo refer to the remuneration of the staff at the Secretariat. He added that for Jagdeo to create the impression that IDPADA-G officials are lining their pockets rather than doing actual work, is wholly mischievous.
He added that the ratio of the staff’s salaries to the overall budget is in the range of the public sector’s entities’ salaries to the current expenditure ratio.
Dr Alexander in addressing the $343,000 in grant payments, said that IDPADA-G received some $10M circa 2018 from the Finance Ministry. Those funds were earmarked for distribution to the Afro-Guyanese community.
He added that a bulk of that money was disbursed in 2018 and 2019. Therefore, the $343,000 quoted as measly by the VP, were funds that were left back from the $10M. That $343k was disbursed in 2020, hence it appeared on the financial statement, which Jagdeo used.
“To suggest that of a subvention of $100M in 2020, the community merely benefited from a grant to the tune of $343,000 is either malicious or gross incompetence,” the Chairman said.