Granger/WPA meet­ing only made mat­ters worse

Weekend Mirror - - EDITORIAL -

The

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.

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