Cabinet gets update on scholarship programme


Less than a day after threatening to sue a radio station accusing him of fraud, the Chairman of the Prime Minister’s Scholarship Committee, Maurice Merchant, provided a review of the operation of the scholarship program in Cabinet.

Merchant reportedly said that in 2013, 186 scholarships were provided to students. In 2017, the number of scholarships climbed to 544 at cost of EC$ 15 million.

According to the government, today, 1,689 scholarships are being supported by the Prime Minister’s Scholarship Programme and $21 million dollars have been budgeted for 2018.

“The program has been an overwhelming success,” a Cabinet brief on the matter said.

No mention was made of the fraud allegations in the Cabinet notes which Merchant describes as completely false.

He says he will take legal action against the radio station, Crusader Radio, where the allegations were reportedly published.

 The government says funding of scholarships in 2018 has been more challenging than in previous years.

“The resources, which have come largely from the Citizenship by Investment Program, have not been as plentiful because of the many challenges which the CIP face,” notes from the Cabinet indicated.

It added, however, that the program enjoys a 90% success.

It was recommended that technical short-term training programs be added to the Program, in order to encourage specialty in technical trades by skilled tradespeople.

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    Since it may have been an accusation, ‘…baseless or factual,’ that may have prompted
    a Cabinet response, as opposed to asking about ‘…statistical data and speaking to
    challenges with funding, ‘…Why was there not an inquisition into the accusation which
    seemed to have provoked threat of personal litigation by the Committee’s Chairman?

    It makes ‘…Little or Nonsense’ in side-stepping the bone of contention. Since this is a matter
    of ‘…public funding and public interest,’ without facts, a Cabinet might assure the public of a ‘…forensic audit’ that may determine whether or not that which is harbored in the minds of some people is so.

    More importantly, it may show three things (i) …Accountability for public funds; and (ii) …Integrity in public life; and (iii) …Eliminate lingering suspicion, belief or accusation as
    to how public funds were, and continue to be expended.

    Either way, it is ‘…Litigiously Dangerous’ to say things without irrefutable facts, and still ‘…Accusatorily Dangerous’ not to sufficiently clear the air.

    Public office is public trust. ….Let there be Light and there might be trust.

    • Mr. Pompey. I hope you rAnd when ask for the proof he could not deliver such. You remember Ivena sang a calypso that the PM transferred $5million from the government Treasury to his wife charity. She was also sued and if I am correct the case is still in court. The UPP has made it their modus of operandi to make false baseless accusation without providing any proof. If the government would be investigating every time these guys make a claim than we would not have time to run the affairs of this country. You have to be reasonable. What it is you want the Cabinet to investigate. They only need an update from the man who is in charge as to how the program is doing. Not to go after frivolous accusations. I mean a man like you who was a chief of police should know better. You cannot investigate every senseless and baseless political accusation

      • How about having audited financial statements evey year. When you are handing out funds and having funds returned in cash what do expect? If the funds did not disappear on the way to the office they most probably would disappear in the office. This administration does not like transparency. This way the thieves can help themselves.

        • Strange how you would accuse this administration for not wanting transparency when it is they that brought all the 10 years of audited accounts under the UPP to parliament. and with that every special warrant that was outstanding. You should also listen to Parliament and you would notice every time another minister would table the accounts of the statutory body they are responsible for in parliament something that didn’t happen under the UPP. And it is this government that has instituted weekly Cabinet briefings so that the press can ask whatever questions they want from the minister after they are given a summary of all the things discussed in Cabinet safe from confidential information. The annual audited accounts are up to date. The Treasury is not nine years behind any longer. They meet the statutory deadline of June 30 to submit their accounts to the Director of Audit. I can’t help it if you do not follow parliament and don’t read. But when you make baseless statement you are just like those in the UPP corner on their radio station

        • Audited statement are provided every year in the consolidated statement of the government. This is not a separate company. It forms part of central government and they present audited statements every year. When Merchant needs to pay student he has to go to the Treasury and request a check. He doesn’t has his own bank account. And when funds are returned is goes to the Treasury and not to him personally.
          Why don’t you guys educate yourself and let we have some educated discussions

          • Why is it called a scholarship fund if funds have not set aside. You so anxious to discredit the UPP government that you didn’t notice the audit was for the scholarship fund. Recalled that a previous ALP Minister was having Chequers issued in other people’s names and cashing them at the bank.
            Having Chequers issued and having excess returned in cash is primed for fraud. Reason forensic auditors exist as things are not always what they seem.

        • Please Jackie, It is called the Prime Minister scholarship because the manner it will be funded. Do you ever listen to the Budget debate? if so you will notice they do have a line item how much they hope to spend for that line item. And please do not mix up things that happened at Statutory Corporation with how central government is run. ALL the checks are issued by the Accountant General. Not Mr. Merchant and not the PM. And she can only do so if funds are made available to her for that purpose. I think we need alot of education as to how government works. You people think a minister can just order the Treasury to pay someone. Well let me tell you, the FS have more power than the minister when it comes to that. He is like the CFO of the Company. The Minister is just a Board Member.

      • @Sideline-I am in total agreement with you.Mr Pompey is someone whom i have the greatest of respect for and someone i usually enjoy listening to,but as human’s we all err at times and this is one time i think he has done so.. I really do not know what there is about this matter that requires an investigation.There was never any audited report or even word of mouth report that any money was missing. It was explained clearly how the procedures works whenever a student has to return funds,which is what transpired in this particular case.The Cabinet is satisfied that there are no funds unaccounted for from the records presented to them.. We all know who those people are that started the allegation,persons with absolutely no credibility,they thrive on Slander and smearing peoples name.. It cannot be that every allegation directed at someone without any factual basis should result in an investigation,we will be investigating forever,because there seem to be a great number of malicious slander mongers in our society.. If that’s the way it works then i can just decide if i do not like someone and know that person has some dealings around money ,i can just accuse the person of some fraudulent activity without any basis then an investigation should be called,frustrating and dragging someone down with no basis for suspicion whatsoever.. Why would the Government be shielding Merchant if they are suspicious in anyway that he is misusing the Scholarship funds which is already not even enough? Makes no sense to me.. He is right to bring a suit against Crusader and should do so to anyone else who maliciously tries to defame his character..

    From the Sideline, know you are more intelligent than what you have asked.

    Rawlston Pompey had nothing to do with this news item, particularly what is written at ‘…Paragraph 5.’

    Moreover, this news item has absolutely nothing to do with ‘…Queen Ivena.’

    Seems you have gone ‘…Way Off Line,’ and likened to a horse drawn cart, ‘…pulled four others with you.’

    The answer you have asked for is in ‘…paragraph 2’ of the comment.

    Don’t think you would understand it better if ‘…Balaam’s Donkey’ comes to talk to you.

    May be King Obstinate could, as he had promised former Prime Minister Vere C. Bird when he said, ‘…Ah Coming Down To Talk To You.’

    That being said, you have made some ‘…useful contributions’ to these news portals.

    Would rather stay at the ‘…Foot of the Cross’ and try to work the way up.

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