The International Decade for People of African Descent Assembly- Guyana (IDPAD-G) has sought legal advice in the face of government’s continued “harassment,” latest being the withholding of its subvention.
Even before it is sufficiently advised on the legal course to be taken if government continues to withhold the subvention, IDPADA-G has taken the position that the Irfaan Ali-led government decision to withhold the subvention is illegal.
IDPADA-G’s Chairman, Vincent Alexander
expressed full confidence that the money will have to eventually be disbursed. He said, “not if, (but) when.”
Asked how come, even in the face of government’s posture, he is able to exude such confidence, Alexnder said that it is because he is fully aware that release of the fund is not at the discretion of the government. The law, via the Appropriation Act, mandates that IDPADA-G be given the money. “This was passed in the National Assembly.”
IDPADA-G held a press conference this morning at the Critchlow Labour College. At that forum, Alexander presented a timeline of when the “harassment” began to when it intensified.
Alexander recalled that while persons in the government had taken issue with the money allocated to the African organization, he said that the official antagonistic behavior began in August.
Alexander told the media that on August 17, IDPADA-G posted on its website the advertisement of Cuffy 250’s annual forum. This year, it was held under the theme, “resisting the emerging apartheid state.”
Two days after the posting of that advertisement, the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports directed IDPADA-G to submit, “forthwith” its audited financial records and articles of incorporation to the ministry.
Alexander noted that that same day, Vice President, Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo “waved pages of those documents” at a presser where he accused the Assembly of being inefficient to the wider African community while serving the needs to only a few.
Alexander recalled that on Monday August 2, IDPADA-G refuted Dr. Jagdeo’s claims and presented evidence of the transparent and accountable conduct of its affairs.
“It gave clear examples of the misinformation peddled. For example, it refuted the inference that the subvention was intended to be used for the doling out of grants. It also showed that the sum G$343,000 which was disbursed as grants in 2020 was a residual amount of a G$10M grant fund separate and apart from the subvention which was administered in 2018 through 2020,” said Alexander.
However, despite his attempts to show that the organization was above board, Alexander said that the “harassment of and attempt to silence” IDPADA-G was taken to another level in on August 31 when the Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports, Charles Ramson Jnr. wrote IDPADA-G instructing that all its financial records including payment vouchers, payroll, contracts and receipts for expenditures be handed over to the Ministry.
Alexander said IDPADA-G responded by noting that the Ministry of Finance’s Central Internal Audit Unit has already conducted and reported on an investigation into the receipts and disbursement of funds by IDPADA-G for the period 2018 to 2021. A copy of the audit report was forwarded to the Minister since his request sought to duplicate what was already done by Finance.
Alexander noted that Ministry of Finance’s audit span almost three months. It stated in December and ended in February. “We are not willing to go through the mill again, just a few months after,” said Alexander.
The chairman also told the media that the organization offered to have the financial records for 2022 audited this despite the fact that those records are statutorily due for audit at the end of 2022. He also noted that IDPADA-G’ audits required under the company Act are up to date and available.
Nevertheless, there has been no response from the Ministry to the missive or to the requests for disbursements for the September and October Parliamentary appropriated subventions.
Alexander said that both the Ministries of Finance and Culture Youth and Sport were written to about release of subvention.
Alexander said too that IDPADA-G has been unable to honour some of its debts including salaries and as such services had to be terminated.
In the interim, low-cost activities and fund raising continue.
The annual members meeting was convened on October 9. At that forum, a resolution which reiterated the rationale for the establishment of IDPADA-G called on the government to honor its obligation in keeping with the provisions of the Appropriation Law which provides for the funding of IDPADA-G.
The Assembly is also seeking the continuation of funding of IDPADA-G onto the end of the decade.
The Resolution also called upon President, Irfaan Ali to honour his verbal promises to meet with IDPADA-G as requested in writing on three occasions two of which predated the public ridicule.
Can we have an organization that represents East Indians or humans of other races without it being deemed racist?