The Ministry of the Presidency (MoTP) yesterday said that no state funds were used to purchase bicycles, boats or buses which have been deployed since 2015 around the country to transport schoolchildren.
In a statement, MoTP was responding to the editorial in yesterday’s Stabroek News which had among other things criticised the handing out of bikes to schoolchildren at a Rose Hall event where candidates for A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) at upcoming Local Government Elections were also introduced.
The MoTP statement said that in 2015, President David Granger launched the Public Education and Transportation Service (PETS), which was popularly known as the Three Bs’ Initiative, to enable equal access to education to all children.
“To date, over 1,161 bicycles have been distributed to school children and 27 school buses and nine boats have been given to communities across the country to enable children to attend school. The PETS programme has, in some cases, allowed parents to save as much as $48,000 per student, per month, money which can now be funnelled into improving the household”, the statement said. It said that despite the fact that the Head of State and the Ministry of the Presidency has made it clear from the start of the programme, that no State funds are used to procure the bicycles, the boats or the buses, the Stabroek News editorial asserts otherwise.
“The Ministry of the Presidency is now making it pellucid that all of the bicycles, boats and buses presented to students and communities from the start of the programme on July 15, 2015 and over the last three years were donated by private citizens, civic organisations and members of the business community, both locally and in the Diaspora”, the statement added.
It further went on to say that the claim in the editorial that the Department of Public Information (DPI) should not have attended or provided coverage of a public event is ludicrous.
“The DPI is responsible for disseminating accurate information on government policies, programmes, services and activities, through the print and electronic media in a timely manner, with the view of generating public support for the said policies, programmes, services and activities, thereby creating the environment for them to succeed.
The meeting held at the Rose Hall Primary School was a community meeting, which the Head of State attended, and to which the entire media corps was invited”, the statement said.
The Stabroek News editorial did not say that DPI should not be in attendance. It stated that if the expenses for the meeting had been borne by APNU then DPI should not have been in attendance.
Stabroek News’ Editor-in-Chief Anand Persaud in an invited comment said that the PETS programme is a governmental one and therefore should not have been merged with the presentation of the APNU’s Rose Hall candidates. He said the presentation of the candidates should be a strictly party event.