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The Government of Guyana did not release the grant to the International Decade for People of African Descent Assembly – Guyana (IDPADA-G) for the month of September. A source within the organisation, who preferred to remain anonymous to speak on the matter, confirmed they received no money for September or October. “The government’s response was not expected- though some had a sense this could have happened- but we have to find a way to continue serving the community.”
IDPADA-G was established in December 2017, in response to the United Nations (UN) International Decade For People of African Descent, with the Mission to:
“1) Advocate at the national level for policies and programmes that advance the interests and condition of Guyanese of African Descent in the five Response Areas of Economy, Employment, Education, Equity/Equality and Expiation.
2) Provide guidance and support to member organizations for developing and undertaking projects that respond to the needs of Guyanese of African Descent.
3) Provide capacity building and organizational support to member organizations and the wider African Guyanese community”
The Government of Guyana, starting with the A Partnership for National Unity and Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC) gave the organisation a yearly grant, disbursed monthly. The People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) continued the grant disbursement but apparently intended to stop it.
The organisation’s leaders were verbally assaulted by Vice President (VP) Bharrat Jagdeo in August. At a press conference on August 19 the VP called leaders of the organisation “parasites using Afro-Guyanese just for their own benefit.”
On August 22, at a press conference, the leaders of IDPADA-G responded to the VP’s accusation. They all made known they were never paid and aren’t paid for the services they provide.
It was also pointed out the organisation is staffed by a secretariat whose workers are paid the equivalent to those in the public service. Further, a Fact Sheet accounting for the less than half-a-billion dollars received from the state in the last five years, with the projects executed, was presented for public consumption.
Yet on August 31, Minister of Youth, Culture and Sports, Charles Ramson Jr. wrote Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Olivia Sampson, demanding a “comprehensive audit” of the organisation, on the claim that “recent disclosures, publications, and public statements have provided the basis for the Ministry to have grave concerns which require closer examination by the Ministry.”
Sampson, on September 2, responding to Ramson Jr. advised that “a comprehensive audit of our organisation was conducted by the Central Internal Audit Unit of the Ministry of Finance, for the period January 1, 2018 through December 31, 2021.”
The CEO went further to suggest that whereas the 2022 fiscal year is not over, thereby an audit not done, IDPADA-G “stands ready to engage the appropriate government agency to mutually agree on such an independent auditor and the necessary terms of reference for the period January 1, 2022 to the present.”
The minister has gone silent. The government has since withheld funding.
There is the perception among sections of society, that at the instigation of Jagdeo, the government has pulled off a publicity stunt to discredit IDPADA-G leaders in order to justify the withdrawal of state funding.
Trade unionist and columnist in this paper, Lincoln Lewis, writing on the matter Sunday, made known that IDPADA-G “is in a struggle for its survival.” According to him, the VP sought to criminalise the leaders in the organisation and make society feel they were misappropriating funds given by the state to carry out work consistent with the principles adumbrated by the UN in observance of the decade….Now they are moving in to kill the work of IDPADA-G by withdrawing state funding.”
For more on the organisation visit https://www.facebook.com/IDPADAG