Roopnaraine hopeful that govt will release Critchlow subventions

The administration of the Critchlow Labour College (CLC) was on Friday still hopeful that subventions covering the past three months from the Ministry of Education to assist the institution in meeting its day-to-day expenses, including the payment of salaries for some staff, would be released this week.

CLC Principal, Dr Rupert Roopnaraine told Stabroek News on Friday that both the Ministers of Education and Finance were out of the country and had only recently returned, and the procedures for the release of funds might have been held up on account of their absence.

He said that the CLC had met its obligations, namely, to submit the college’s work plan for 2007 and audited reports for 2004, 2005 and 2006, as requested by the government in the case of entities which were granted budgetary allocations.

The Chairman of the Board of Directors of the CLC, Andrew Garnett had written to the Ministers of Finance and Education on October 15 requesting the disbursement of the monthly subvention as approved by parliament, but had received no reply. However, Roopnaraine said that it was possible that this was because the ministers were absent from their offices. Garnett’s letter was also copied to the Office of the President.

Roopnaraine said that because of the non-receipt of the subvention in the sum of $2.9 million which made up one third of the actual expenditure incurred in the daily running of the college, the CLC was now operating on a shoe-string budget.

He said that the CLC also depended on minimal tuition fees and other cost recovery measures that it had implemented. Short of hiking fees in circumstances where students already found it difficult to meet existing payments, the other alternative which was not under consideration at present was to cut down on programmes.

Some staff at the CLC on Friday told Stabroek News that they had not received their salaries for this month and the college “has tremendous debts in many areas.”

The CLC, which offers a variety of academic and professional programmes for students and workers on a daily basis, opened its doors in 1967. Secondary school students who had dropped out of school were offered a second chance to write the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate Examinations (CSEC), and many had distinguished themselves.

The CLC also offers professional courses in business management, industrial social sciences, psychology and a variety of other subject areas. A member of the academic staff told this newspaper that the pass rate was “pretty high” with 100 per cent passes in most subjects.

Garnett, the immediate past President of the Guyana Trades Union Congress recently issued a warning at the GTUC Second Triennial Congress on October 25, 2007 that the CLC might be forced to close its doors immediately if the government continued to withhold subventions since the funds of the college had been exhausted.

Noting that it was the second time this year that the government had withheld the subventions which had been approved by parliament, Garnett said the administration had received the CLC work plan for 2007 and audited reports for 2004, 2005 and 2006.

He also referred to the government’s withdrawal of the subvention from the GTUC. (Miranda La Rose)

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