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Although in the final year of the International Decade for People of African Decent, the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) Government has failed to demonstrate its seriousness towards African Guyanese and the organisation established locally to meet the needs of those in the community.
Chairman of the International Decade of People of African Decent Assembly- Guyana (IDPADA-G), Vincent Alexander said the government has treated the organisation unfairly, failing to execute the resolution set out by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly.
The UN in 2013 proclaimed 2015 to 2024 as the International Decade for People of African Descent, intended to redress historical deficiencies, historical wrongs, absence of recognition, absence of justice and absence of development, among other objectives.
The PPP has however reneged on this responsibility signed on to by the government , refusing to release funds to the organisation to carry out its mandate.
Since 2022, the government has withheld yearly subventions to the agency, accusing officials of financial mismanagement. The organisation’s heads have tirelessly debunked such claims, which have been peddled without proof.
During his appearance on the live online Politics 101 with Dr David Hinds Thursday, Alexander pointed to the government’s reference to the Decade of People of African Decent as an “observance” in this year’s budget.
“Here is a government referring to that task of refashioning your institutional framework of legal reform as an observance .
We’re not into an observance of a decade, we’re into work of a decade. And so the very use of the language observance tells a story of the disposition of the government to a declaration, resolution which it signed on to,” he said.
Under that line item government has set aside $100 million which IDPADA‐G is yet to see.
He said the government has not been supportive in the establishment of a secretariat for IDPADA-G which is critical to the execution of its work.
“It is therefore not surprising that we are given $100 million, which to our understanding was to establish a secretariat that would then work with the people for the purpose of empowerment and would interact with the government for the purpose of institutional and legal reform.
Under no circumstances could $100 million be considered as sufficient to be giving out meaningful grants to organisations, bearing in mind the meaningful grants not necessarily address the question of institutional and legal reform.”
The chairman compared the annual $100 million subvention for IDPADA-G to the $140 million set aside for the hosting of Amerindian heritage month celebrations this year.
While he is not contending the allocation to indigenous Guyanese, Alexander said the ‘seriousness’ of the government to African Guyanese is quite obvious.
He said the decade, which comes to an end on December 31 this year, has not seen the reform, change, enhancement and betterment of African Guyanese. According to Alexander the same socio- economic conditions that existed at the beginning of the decade remain.
Meanwhile, despite the government’s refusal to release funds, IDPADA-G remains committed to improving the lives of African Guyanese.
Chief Executive Officer, Olive Sampson said while it is still not adequate, the agency has been receiving financial assistance from local and overseas Guyanese.
The organisation, operating with a skeleton staff, has been able to maintain two night schools since 2020.
“So the subvention that the government said did nothing help black people, part of it went to support those two night schools.
Since our subventions have been cut we have tried to raise funds and we have kept up sending whatever we can to those two night schools,” Sampson said on the programme.
She said a proposal was written to an international organisation seeking funding to ensure young persons who are showing an interest in acquiring a secondary education have that opportunity.
She explained that the organisation has done a lot of work over the years with organisational development , building the capacity of other organisations and businesses.
“Our staff provided services to the African Guyanese community and continues to do that even now we have a skeleton staff, that staff continues to provide services to the business community,” she noted. (Politics 101)