Granger/WPA meeting only made matters worse
meeting between President David Granger and leaders of the Working People’s alliance has not resolved the issue of non-consultation among partners in the coalition government and has instead exposed even more serious disagreements on important national issues.
The meeting took place after the WPA claimed it was not consulted on the hasty removal of Dr. Rupert Roopnarine as Minister of Education and placing him in an ill-defined office within the Office of the Presidency.
After the meeting the WPA was still of the opinion that it was not consulted on the Roopnarine matter and in general said it was not consulted on anything since the government took office. Observers feel the meeting made matters worse.
Additionally, i t expressed opposition to government’s VAT on private education and sloth in constitutional reform.
The affair is being bungled as in so many other actions of the government. It is not quite clear what will be Roopnarine’s role and it is not sure whether there is a permanent Minister of Education.
Two days after his demotion from the post of Education Minister was announced, the Coalition Government tabled a finan- cial paper in the National Assembly asking for the House to approve $16.6M, which will be used to fund the new activities that Minister Rupert Roopnarine would be responsible for. Notably, the request for millions of taxpayers’ dollars came a day after Roopnarine was unable to say what he will be responsible for with clarity. “I anticipate that the Public Service Ministry will present its own type of challenges….it is going to be different,” he said when asked about his new posting.
Roopnarine added, “…I would feel more comfortable if I had a sense of what it (the mandate of the new posting) entails.”
Meanwhile, Minister of State, Joseph Harmon, has said that Roopnarine will overseas a department within the Ministry of the Presidency – whereas Roopnarine talked about a “Public Service Ministry” when asked about his new portfolio.
According to Harmon, the Department will oversee the implementation of innovations and reforms in the education system. He added that the creation of the new department removes these functions from the Education Ministry and place it into the hands of “a technical set of persons who are being identified for that purpose.” This special group of persons, the Minister said will pay particular attention to the findings coming out of the recently concluded Commission of Inquiry into state of education, and other areas of concern in the sector that needs to be immediately addressed.
Harmon said, “The new department will allow for the development of policies and programmes needed for the long term development of the sector.
“It will also allow the (new) Minister of Education (Nicolette Henry) to be able to focus on the day to day implementation and administration of the sector.”
Additionally, the $16.6M that is being requested by government – sums addi- tional to the $250 Budget for 2017 – is expected, according to the Financial Paper, to be spent on the following: $6.3M for contract employees; $3.06M for clerical and office support; $ 2.53 for other direct labour costs; $500,000 for local travel; and $3M for the purchase of equipment, among other planned expenditures.
The explanatory note accompanying all the expenditures for the new ‘Department of Innovation and Education Reform’ only states that the monies are needed “to provide for the establishment” of the department. No other details, to offer clarity, have been included in the financial paper.