Jul 27, 2015 News
The $10,000 cash grant to school children, which was introduced last year by the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) administration, was merely an election gimmick.
Addressing a public meeting last Friday evening, Minister of State Joseph Harmon, revealed that the education programme which was touted as benefiting low income families was never intended to be a long term endeavour by the then government.
The $10,000 cash grant was afforded to children attending nursery, primary as well as secondary level public schools across the country. It was said to be an initiative being undertaken because of Government’s interest in the education of children and was thus labelled the “Because We Care Cash Grant.”
But Minister Harmon said that the programme, “was an election gimmick and it was not meant to be more than a one shot arrangement.”
He revealed that since taking office at the Ministry of the Presidency, previously known as the Office of the President, he discovered “documents” which proved his statement to be true.
According to him, those documents had reported on a meeting between former Cabinet Secretary, Dr. Roger Luncheon, former Minister of Education, Priya Manichand and a sub-committee of the PPP/C cabinet.
According to the Minister of State, documents relating to that meeting showed that the project was never intended to be a long term initiative.
“In their discussions during cabinet, the decision they arrived at was that this thing was unsustainable, it was logistically terrible for them to pursue and that they had no intention of continuing the project,” said Minister Harmon.
The Minister did not provide a hardcopy of the documents, however, he maintained that despite discontinuing the “unsustainable” project, the Opposition PPP/C has still criticised the David Granger-led administration for their decision to review the programme.
Moving forward he said that A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) administration will find a way to have that very money in the cash grant benefit students more directly.
Minister Harmon told attendees that the structural set up of the $10,000 cash grant allowed for the misuse of funds, to the detriment of its intended purpose. He added that the bulk of the money was never used to assist school students.
While he did not provide details, Harmon posited that Government is looking at alternative ways to implement the funds used in the “Because We Care Cash Grant”.
“We will put that money into a programme which will benefit the school children directly” said Harmon, adding that the new plan could benefit CXC students through the form of vouchers.
Earlier this month, Minister of Governance, Raphael Trotman, said that the continuance of the $10,000 cash grant would be pending the outcome of a review undertaken by the Government. He had also labelled the project as unsustainable by economic standards.
“When one studies developmental economics, when you give a grant or cash transfer, it must be accompanied or guided by a means test,” Trotman explained.
A means test is a determination of whether an individual or family is eligible for government assistance, based upon whether the individual or family possesses the means to do without that help. Moreover, Trotman underscored that the purpose of the review is to ensure that the most vulnerable in society are the primary beneficiaries of the grant.
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