$90.8 million spent on scholarships for five ministers under previous administration – Min. Hamilton

But denied 610 Guyanese as he underlines positive impact of GOAL scholarship, BIT training

The National Assembly heard on Monday morning that a total of $90.8 million was expended on five ministers of the previous administration for personal scholarships while they denied over 600 Guyanese who could have been beneficiaries of government scholarships.

This was revealed by the Minster of Labour, Joseph Hamilton during the 2024 budget debates in the National Assembly.

Minister of Labour, Joseph Hamilton, delivering his budget debate presentation

Minister Hamilton stated that the total expended could have been spent on financing the education of over 600 Guyanese instead of being isolated for intimate gains.

“The fact of the matter is, Mr Speaker, that 610 Guyanese were denied training by five ministers of the previous government, the Guyanese people have not forgotten,” the labour minister underscored.

Minister Hamilton provided a breakdown of the money spent.

He said the previous administration spent a total of $2.68 million on a scholarship for Annette Ferguson and $10.4 million on another scholarship for Nicolette Henry, both ministers at the time.  

He informed the Assembly that the previous government also expended $2.68 million on a scholarship for Tabitha Sarabo-Halley who was a minister while spending $49.4M on government scholarships for two children of the then ministers.

“…They come to this noble house with all kinds of pretence that they care about the Guyanese people…So, when you come with your pretence and your crocodile tears, the Guyanese people have not forgotten…They will never forget…”, the minister said.

Minister Hamilton said the difference between the two administrations is clear for all to see. One, he said in essence, took care of themselves, their friends and their families while the PPP Government is continuously making heavy investments to make Guyanese across the nation employable.

A total of $4B is allocated for the GOAL Scholarship programme this year to support 6000 new students and 3967 continuing students in the budget.

Last year, the government allocated 7752 scholarships to Guyanese populations regardless of age, sex, political affiliation or race.

Meanwhile, speaking on the success of the Board of Industrial Programme, Minister Hamilton said the programme boasts 11,275 beneficiaries through the implementation of 549 projects.

Last year recorded 4283 males and 6992 females who received training between 2020 and 2023 through the BIT programme.

“Mr. Speaker, the government has invested 982,108,000 in the lives of Guyanese through skilling, upskilling, and reskilling through TVET programs,” Minister Hamilton asserted.

Minister Hamilton praised the diversity and inclusivity of the BIT initiative.

“Mr Speaker, 3230 youths commence training during 2023 across all administrative regions of Guyana in 50 occupational areas. Also, 235 persons with disabilities received training through the Board of Industrial Training through this cycle,” Minister Hamilton underscored.

The implementation of these programmes resulted in 4439 persons being engaged and trained by BIT in 2023.

Similarly, the government collaborated with the Basic Needs Trust Fund to offer heavy-duty equipment operation to 3312 beneficiaries.

BIT engaged 638 females in 21 non-traditional areas.

Residents of the hinterland regions and riverine communities in Region One, Two, Three, Five, Six, Seven, Eight, and Nine, accounted for 20% of the persons trained during. 881 total beneficiaries, 390 males and 491 females.

“The government I represent, prioritise and will continue to support the Board of Industrial Training and we implore the Assembly at large to do the same. Don’t give yourselves scholarships, train the people,” Minister Hamilton stated.