$2B education grant could have been used to increase teachers, police salary – GCCI

[www.inewsguyana.com] – President of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) Clinton Urling said his membership is particularly pleased with the social programmes contained in the $220B National 2014 Budget to help families get their kids to school.

Finance Minister Dr. Ashni Singh had announced a cash grant of $10,000 to the parent of every child attending a public school. According to Dr. Singh, the initiative will benefit the families of 188,406 students and will cost a total of $2B.

However, the GCCI has taken into account that government will have to find appropriate mechanisms to ensure that the funds allocated reach its intended targets and that the monies, once received by the families, is spent for the purpose intended.

Urling believes that this could cause logistical and resource problems during implementation and monitoring.

“To ensure efficacy, government will have to spend and utilize additional resources, both financial and human, additional funds may have to be allocated for this,” the GCCI Head told reporters at a press conference on Friday, March 28.

It is in this context that the Body believes that the money could have been better spent to increase the salaries of teachers and police ranks. Urling argued that it would have been much easier to do this, in terms of implementation and the cost of doing so would have been cheaper.

GCCI's President Clinton Urling

GCCI’s President Clinton Urling

The GCCI President reminded of the body’s support for a knowledge base economy and of previous calls of this ilk.

“Personally I think it would have been more prudent and expedient to do that,” Urling said.

Dr. Singh had said that the hope is that the grant will provide added impetus to raising enrolment and attendance rates, in addition to having the effect of increasing the disposal incomes of the parents of school aged children.

Many, including the political opposition had contended that the money was either inadequate or could have been spent better otherwise.

Opposition Leader David Granger had said that the monies could have been used to purchase boats and buses to transport school children.

A point to note however is that the Minister has not indicated that this initiative is continuous and as it stands, is only a one time gesture.