Minister Parag condemns Opposition for coveting scholarships

– says actions were self-serving    

Minister of Public Service, Hon. Sonia Parag condemned several members of the Opposition for capitalising on their positions to utilise scholarships which should have been granted to many deserving youth.  

The Minister made this statement during her presentation on the second day of the Budget Debate in the National Assembly.

Minister of Public Service, Hon. Sonia Parag

Rebutting Member of Parliament, Hon. Tabitha Sarabo-Halley’s statement that she could have justifiably benefited from the scholarship, Minister Parag said the opportunity should have been given to persons who were unable to support themselves financially while furthering their education.

Minister Parag said it was equally irresponsible of the MP to provide similar opportunities to her colleagues. This includes former Ministers Hon. Dr. Nicolette Henry, and Hon. Annette Ferguson and the children of former minister Ms. Simona Broomes.

“When you take public office, it is not to help yourself, but to serve the Guyanese people. So do not come here and try to justify that you helped yourself instead of the nation.

The Honourable Member granted a scholarship which I might add cost the sum of £10,080 that should have lasted two years, and up to today we do not have a record at the Ministry of Public Service that she has ever completed it,” Minister Parag said.

Similar incidences occurred when they applied for house lots and other services, the Public Service Minister said.  She noted that these actions by the members of the then Coalition Government were self-serving rather than a demonstration of service to the nation.

In 2019, the total number of scholarships disbursed are as follows: Region One (4), Region Two (10), Region Three (30), Region Four (158), Region Five (13) Region Seven (4) Region Eight (0) Region Nine (4), Region Ten (33).

Meanwhile, Minister Parag said she has granted the following scholarships since she was assigned to her post in August 2020: Region One (14), Region Two (21), Region Three (51) Region Four (226 – between sub-areas- East Coast and West Bank), Region Five (23), Region Seven (7), Region Eight (7), Region Nine (10) and Region Ten (45). 

“In that short time, the PPP/C administration was able to deliver and not leave the hinterland behind as we promised. In 2021, this aspect will invariably improve,” she said.

Spotlighting the misuse of taxpayers’ money to operate the Bertram Collins College of the Public Service, Minister Parag said the Government plans to foster initiatives that would benefit Guyana’s future leaders.

This year’s budget allocated $3.65 billion for the Public Service Ministry. Of this sum, $1 billion will go towards training.  This includes financial aid to the Georgetown, Linden, Essequibo and Berbice Technical Institutes.

Additionally, the Ministry has set aside $15 million to improve its information technology. This will be made possible through a collaboration between the Ministry and the Indian Government, which will fund that centre as well.

Minister Parag said while the Opposition has been pushing the narrative that this year’s Budget is “visionless and oppressive,” the Government intends to prove them wrong as it seeks to boost development across the country.

“Budget 2021 comes on the heels of an Emergency Budget approved in September 2020, which kick-started relief measures aimed at unburdening our nation’s people. A burden that was every bit as oppressive and suffocating as those in the 1970s and 80s,” she added.

The $383.1 billion National Budget was presented under the theme, “A Path to Recovery, Economic Dynamism and Resilience.”