Nov 16, 2008 Sports
–GTU bursts through red tapes
By Edison Jefford
The Office of the President’s (OP) intervention that saved the national schools’ track and field, cycling and swimming championships was a clear indicator of the ineptitude of the other stakeholders in managing the mega event.
The financial woes that endangered the staging of the competition ended up on President Bharrat Jagdeo’s desk because of the red tapes the Guyana Teachers’ Union (GTU) encountered during their early planning stages.
GTU President, Colwyn King told Kaieteur Sport yesterday in an exclusive interview that officials from the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport were not cooperative in the staging of the event.
As a result, he was forced to write His Excellency, the Executive President of Guyana, on Wednesday asking for his office’s intervention in an effort that would allow GTU and the 16 districts to participate in the Games.
In the letter, which this newspaper has seen, GTU clearly outlined the monies the districts received as well as the differences. The same was done for the Union’s budgeted amount and a total shortfall of $25,055,145 surfaced.
“I called a press conference (on Thursday) to basically let everyone know of the problem. We had also written the president the day before (Wednesday) asking for his intervention in this matter,” King recalled yesterday.
The GTU President said that he was called to a meeting on Friday at OP where he was informed that the request will be met. He noted that he received an advance of $2M as a sign of Government’s commitment.
Outlining the process of the disbursement of the $25M, King disclosed that OP will deal directly with the difference of the GTU budget which amounts to $7,333,206. The Union had earlier amassed $2,800,000.
Central Ministry of Education will handle the three Georgetown districts’ budget while monies are to be released to the Ministry of Local Government to take care of the other districts’ shortfall in their budgets.
Despite the lack of early availability of funds, GTU had continued putting the necessary systems in place for a successful school national. They met with the Police Force and had set up a committee in host town, Linden.
While it seem as though the pro–activity of the Union will provide dividends, King could not help lamenting the red tapes they were forced to endure at the levels of the Permanent Secretaries of the Ministries named earlier.
“I had sent budgets to the stakeholders since March but a rumour about us wasting money emerged and the Permanent Secretary (PS) of the Ministry of Education subsequently asked for a clarification of the budget.”
King said that he immediately asked for a meeting with that PS, Pulander Khanai but that fell through after he arrived and Khanai declined. King said that the same thing happened on a second and third occasion.
Eventually, he met with the PS of the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport, Keith Booker and was told that he has to take up the matter with the Ministry of Education. King held that he did so two weeks ago at another level.
“I decided that I won’t take the push around and wait anymore. I met with (Minister of Education) Shaik Baksh and (Minister within the Ministry of Education), Desrey Fox and clearly stated my position.”
“I told them that I am not going after sponsors because it is the Ministry of Education that should be doing that. The Minister related to me that he thought the PS had everything covered and he did not know otherwise,” King continued.
While the debacle was lengthening, the GTU head was tasked with communicating with the various regional offices to get updates on their preparation. He said that he was adamant that the Games will proceed.
According to King, he realised later that Khanai was confusing the GTU budget with the one for Georgetown teams. He told this newspaper that he went at lengths to explain the factions of the budget to Khanai.
The push around reached boiling point when a press conference was called on Thursday to update the media on the status of the marquee schools’ event; at that point, the media was told that the event hung in balance.
But President Jagdeo’s timely intervention in the form of offsetting the various budgets of the districts and GTU sets the stage for one of the best schools’ nationals in the four–decade history of the championships.
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