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Equality group probe call.

A TORY AM has called for a full investigation into a publicly funded race equality organisation after learning that the cost of employing an economic development officer is pounds 50,000 a year.

Monmouth AM David Davies was given the information after a question to economic development minister Andrew Davies about the All Wales Ethnic Minority Association, Awema.

The minister said the money, which came from Assembly funds, 'was for the employment of an economic development officer to develop staff and members' ability to fulfil the agreed aims and objectives of Awema's economic development committee and to secure funds under the European Social Fund's Equal programme and European Regional Development Fund technical assistance'.

David Davies, who is his party's spokesman on equality issues, said, 'This seems a vast amount of money for someone whose job is largely to respond to Assembly consultation documents and apply for Euro- pean grants.

'I shall be writing to Gwenda Thomas, who chairs the Assembly's equal opportunities committee, asking for an immediate investigation to be launched into the financing of Awema as well as into allegations made on the BBC Wales TV programme Dragon's Eye last Thursday.'

The programme carried allegations of racial discord within Awema and raised questions about financial issues.

Awema chief executive Naz Malik said, 'David Davies's comments are outrageous. Our economic development officer doesn't get paid anywhere near pounds 50,000, although that is the amount we receive from the Assembly's economic development department.'

Mr Malik said the amount covered overheads such as office rent and travel costs.
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Nov 24, 2003
Words:257
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