Minister Ramson justifies Govt’s decision to withhold IDPADA—G subvention

…tells Chief Justice organisation deprived qualified persons of help

Culture, Youth, and Sport Minister Charles Ramson

“I have been informed by numerous persons and organisations, and do verily believe, that they are qualified to benefit from the subvention disbursed to the International Decade for People of African Descent Assembly – Guyana (IDPADA-G) but were wrongly excluded and thereby deprived by the IDPADA—G from benefitting properly, or at all, from the monies disbursed.”
That was among Culture, Youth, and Sports Minister Charles Ramson’s assertions to acting Chief Justice Roxane George, SC, in the lawsuit brought by the IDPADA—G against the Government over its decision to withhold the Afro-Guyanese organisation’s $8 million monthly subvention.

IDPADA-G Chairman, Vincent Alexander

In his Affidavit in Defence of IDPADA—G’s claim, Minister Ramson deposed that he is aware that 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.
According to him, in 2018, the organisation received a subvention of $68,438,000; in 2019, $100,000,000; in 2020, $107,223,607; in 2021, $100,000,000; and as of August 2022,$66,666,672.

Chief Justice Roxane George, SC

The minister said that $100M has been set aside in the 2023 National Budget to support the activities associated with the observance of the International Decade of People of African Descent.
In his capacity as minister, Ramson submitted that he has been informed by numerous persons and organisations who are qualified to benefit from the subvention disbursed to the IDPADA—G, but were wrongly excluded and deprived of benefitting properly from the monies.
In light of this, Minister Ramson pointed out, he requested 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,” Ramson has said.
Under Sections 48 and 49 of the Fiscal Management and Accountability Act, and at common law, Minister Ramson noted that he has a statutory duty to ensure that public monies are not in any manner misused, misapplied, or improperly disposed of; shall be personally liable in the event of any such public monies being misused, misapplied or improperly disposed of through misconduct or deliberate or serious disregard of reasonable standards of care; and can be liable to be charged criminally for the same and similar reasons.
“The glaring reality is that in every year (2018, 2019, 2020), the highest expenditure of the subvention went towards salaries, wages, and allowances, whilst training and scholarships received the lowest allotment in every corresponding year,” said Minister Ramson as he further examined the organisation’s financial statements.
Considering this, he contended, the IDPADA—G’s use and expenditure of the subvention was grossly disproportionate to the purpose and objectives of its mandate, as set out in its Articles of Incorporation and its Charter.
Having taken into account the complaints and concerns highlighted by stakeholder organisations and persons, and given the public 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 Applicant, pending the resolution of those concerns.”
Nigel Hughes is IDPADA—G’s lawyer. Attorney General Anil Nandlall, SC, is representing the Government. Chief Justice Roxane George, SC, during a hearing on Wednesday, described the dispute over the monies as a national embarrassment, and urged the parties to consider mediation. On February 27, the lawsuit will come up for another hearing.
The IDPADA-G, which is chaired by Opposition-nominated Guyana Elections Commissioner (GECOM) Vincent Alexander, is ultimately seeking a court order to have its subvention reinstated.
According to the organisation, 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 noted that the Government has committed itself to an annual subvention, which began under the A Partnership for National Unity and Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC) administration.
By withholding the monies, IDPADA-G has argued, the Government has broken its legitimate expectation, therefore the organisation is entitled to the intervention of the court on the violation of this legitimate expectation. It argued further that the 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, IDPADA-G contended that it is entitled to damages.
Minister Ramson, Attorney General Anil Nandlall, SC, and Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh are listed as the respondents in the organisation’s claim.