Anti-racism organisation faces funding cut

Despite the fact that no financial irregularities have been found at the Centre Against Racism, Sweden's Board of Integration wants the funding it receives from the state to be reconsidered.

The Centre, which is an umbrella organisation for the government’s work against racism, hit the headlines in the summer after an investigation by daily paper Svenska Dagbladet. The organisation was accused of being wasteful with public money and of doing nothing since it was formed in the autumn of 2003.

Indeed, the only high profile achievement of the Centre was its controversial criticism in April of the promotion of an ice cream which it deemed to be racist. It slammed GB Glace for associating its new ‘Nogger Black’ ice cream with black youth culture, including using graffiti-style writing in the ad.

Many representatives of the Centre Against Racism rejected Svenska Dagbladet’s criticism but Minister for Integration Jens Orback demanded an inquiry into the organisation’s affairs.

This has now been produced by an independent auditing firm which said that the accounting and financial routines “have generally worked satisfactorily”.

Nor did the firm see anything wrong with the Centre Against Racism’s expenditure of 330,000 kronor on furniture and interior design at its 180 square metres of office space in central Stockholm, saying that it was “not in an especially luxurious style”.

But at the same time, the auditor noted that board-level conflicts had negatively affected the Centre Against Racism’s work. There was also criticism of some “technical errors in the book-keeping” and a lack of knowledge of its members.

In response, the Board of Integration has said that the state funding which the organisation receives is too large in relation to the work it is expected to do.

The government has set aside a total of 5.5 million kronor for the Centre Against Racism for 2005. A more conclusive report on the organisation will be submitted in the spring of 2006.

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