Govt, IDPADA-G making headway on settlement in subvention case

The Government and the International Decade for People of African Descent Assembly – Guyana (IDPADA-G) are making progress on a settlement in the lawsuit brought by the organisation against the Government. This could see Government reinstating the IDPADA-G’s $8M monthly subvention which was withdrawn last year.
At another hearing before acting Chief Justice Roxane George, SC on Friday, one of IDPADA-G’s lawyers, Vivian Williams, told the court he was pleased to report they have been in talks with the Government, which has reaffirmed its promise to support the organisation’s work. This, of course, is through the subvention that was provided in the past.
According to counsel, he has made a proposal to the Government, and is awaiting feedback.
That proposal has been reviewed by Attorney General Anil Nandlall, SC, who has since forwarded same to Culture, Youth and Sport Minister Charles Ramson Jr, State Counsel Shoshanna Lall has said. As such, she requested additional time to engage in discussions to arrive at a settlement, which includes a mechanism for the disbursement of the funds.
“I do appreciate that a lot of headway has been made. I am very, very happy to hear that,” Justice George remarked, before informing the parties that if the matter has to go to trial, it would not begin until the last quarter of this year, since her “diary is very full”.
The matter has been adjourned until April 14 at 11am for report.

National embarrassment
At a previous court hearing, the Chief Justice had described the dispute over the monies as a national embarrassment, and had urged the parties to consider mediation.
In defending Government’s decision to withdraw the organisation’s grant, Minister Ramson, in court documents, has averred that he has been informed by numerous persons and organisations, and believes that although they are qualified for assistance from the subvention disbursed to IDPADA-G, they were wrongly excluded and deprived of benefitting from it. In light of this, Minister Ramson said, he requested the IDPADA-G to provide detailed records of how the subventions have thus far been applied.
In reply, he said, the organisation’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Olive Sampson, gave the Financial Statements for 2018, 2019, and 2020.
“These Financial Statements provided by the Applicant [IDPADA-G] reflected not only subvention monies, but included all income and expenditure of the Applicant, and further, did not set out a detailed report of expenditure from the subvention, as specifically requested. However, an examination of the same, in my respectful opinion, corroborated and supported the disaffection and concerns expressed by the persons and organisations who complained to me.”
According to him, in 2018, the organisation received a subvention of $68,438,000. In 2019, it received $100,000,000. In 2020, it received $107,223,607. In 2021, it received $100,000,000. And as at August 2022, it had received $66,666,672.
The Minister informed that $100M has been set aside in the 2023 National Budget to support the activities associated with the observance of the International Decade for People of African Descent, 2015–2024.
Having taken into account the complaints and concerns highlighted by stakeholder organisations and persons, and given the public’s interest, the Culture, Youth, and Sport Minister added, “I considered that I would be in breach of my fiduciary and statutory duties were I to make further disbursements of subventions to the [IDPADA-G], pending the resolution of those concerns.”
The IDPADA-G, chaired by Opposition-nominated Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Commissioner Vincent Alexander, is ultimately seeking a court order to have its subvention reinstated. According to the IDPADA-G, there is a legitimate expectation, given the money was granted by the Government based on an undertaking in the form of an annual subvention paid monthly. It has noted that the Government has committed itself to an annual subvention, which began under the APNU/AFC Administration. The IDPADA-G has rejected Government’s claims that the monies are only benefitting its directors.
By withholding the monies, the IDPADA-G has argued,Government has broken its legitimate expectation; therefore, the organisation is entitled to intervention of the court on the violation of this legitimate expectation.
It has argued further that withdrawal of the subvention is a breach of contract; that the withdrawal is an abuse of power; is unlawful and without basis; and that it was not given notice of the withdrawal, nor was it allowed by the Government to be heard regarding changing the decision.
Moreover, the IDPADA-G has contended that it is entitled to damages. Minister Ramson, Minister Nandlall and Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh are listed as the respondents in the organisation’s lawsuit.
The organisation was birthed out of representations made by former President David Granger on August 7, 2016 at a symposium organised by the Cuffy 250 Committee. (G1)