Opposition claims about govt’s spending on dietary needs for hinterland students an attempt at sleight of hand – Minister Bulkan
DPI, Thursday December 6, 2018
Minister Ronald Bulkan addressing the National Assembly, in support of Budget 2019, described recent statements in several media outlets, attributed to Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo, in an article titled ‘Government in spin mode with 2019 Budget’ as attempts at “sleight of hand.”
The minister clarified that the erroneous statements about billions of dollars being added to the government’s unimportant wants amounted to “$2.3Billion.”
He said that under the dietary supplies for the school feeding programme $819Million is allocated in the latest budget for a total of “principally” 25,901 hinterland students. The comparison was made, he added, to the last 2014 Budget presented by the PPP/C of $535Million, a sum increased by approximately 68 percent by the Coalition Government.
He listed some of the regions benefitting under the current programme. These amounted to 66 locations in the Barima/ Waini Region; 22 locations in the Pomeroon/ Supenaam Region; 29 locations in Cuyuni Mazaruni Region; 24 locations in the Potaro Siparuni Region and 64 Upper Takatu/ Upper Essequibo Region. The total amount set aside in Budget 2019 for these institutions amounted to $1, 840, 000 to provide hot meals for students in these locales, Minister Bulkan clarified.
“The statement by the Opposition Leader regarding the government preferring to spend more on eating than public security or drug purchases… is not one that the government agrees with” Minister Bulkan stated emphatically. He further explained that the remaining funds were for meals for the National Assembly.
He stated, “It is not eating but rather feeding. We are investing in our students in the hinterland regions. We are supporting their education and development for they represent the future. So, this administration will continue with the Five Bs Programme. To provide books, breakfasts, boats, boots and bicycles to produce ‘A’ students, that will allow for improved attendance and improved achievements!”
Paul Mc Adam
Images: Jameel Mohamed