As one of the country’s top performers at the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) stillPresident Donald Ramotarawaits an explanation as to why government has not honoured its promise of a scholarship, the political opposition has chalked the case up to be another clear incident of broken promises by the People’s Progressive Party/ Civic (PPP/C).Specifically, members of the A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) deem the case to be a dispiriting one to the ambitious youths who the very government is trying to persuade for their votes in the upcoming polls.APNU said that the nation’s students should not be subjected to endure such levels of deceit and stressed that “Guyana’s outstanding students deserve no less than the best.”Queen’s College student Elisa Hamilton earned 19 Grade One passes and a Grade Two pass at the CSEC examinations last year and was subsequently promised a government scholarship which would allow her to attend a University of her choice.  It is her desire to pursue studies in medicine at Yale University, but Hamilton was later served with some dispiriting news.Much to her dismay, she was served a notice from Permanent Secretary of the Public Service Ministry Hydar Ally, informing her that she can apply to pursue studies in engineering, dentistry and human medicine in Guyana,Brian Boyle Lightning Jersey, China or Cuba.This is of course in stark contrast with what Minister of Education Priya Manickchand had said in May 2013 that “President Donald Ramotar informed that the two top performers at CSEC and the two top performersEducation Minister, Priya Manickchandat CAPE would be beneficiaries of government scholarships to pursue studies at universities of their choice in any field.”Hamilton expressed much dissatisfaction with the manner in which the matter unfolded and had said that at least if there are changes, students should be informed.Kaieteur News then contacted the Public Services Minister who has responsibility for the award of scholarships and issues relating to the awardees. Asked to say what she plans to do in relation to the matter, Minister Jennifer Westford said,Corey Liuget Chargers Jersey, “Madam I don’t discuss matters on scholarships with the media over the phone.”She was asked if a “face to face” interview was possible, to which she gave an emphatic “No!” She then asserted, “Issues on scholarships and the awardees are discussed between the Ministry and the student. We don’t discuss that with the media. But if the awardee wants to go to the media that’s their business,” after which she ended the call.Dr. Luncheon has given another promise to look into the matter in order to determine why government did not follow through on its commitment to the top CSEC student.The Cabinet Secretary had said that he is aware that the Ministries of Finance,Alex Ovechkin Capitals Jersey, Education and Public Service had indeed lived up to its 2014 obligations, but would want to believe that 2015 is a “different kettle of fish.”He explained that in the absence of an Appropriation Act, the Executive cannot exceed the one-twelfthAPNU Shadow Finance Minister, Carl Greenidgeof the expenditure of the annual budget,Andrew Shaw Jersey, and with that limited resource available, some things would not be honoured.“I would want to assume that Hamilton has probably fallen into that category. My office is replete with such complaints with agencies that are not serviced and they write asking for subvention, but I would advise that it’s not within my authority and there isn’t an Appropriation Act,” said Dr. Luncheon.He had said that until the Eleventh Parliament is convened and a budget passed, those expenditures would not be met and so a holding pattern would be in place.The Cabinet Secretary also said that he would follow up on the issue, because he is also aware of other instances where students on scholarships abroad are unable to receive their stipend because of the absence of an Appropriation Act and no sitting Parliament.In an invited comment, Minister of Education Priya Manickchand said that she may not be the best person to answer the newspaper’s questions, as her Ministry has no responsibility for the issuance of scholarships.Manickchand said the Education ministry’s role was to identify the top students according to predetermined criteria and this was done. She said that the candidates then had to go to the Public Service Ministry which would take the process forward.She said the thinking behind the scholarship was that these top students were good enough to study and do well anywhere,Hanley Ramirez Red Sox Jersey, in any field, and return to serve Guyana in the area of expertise they would have acquired. The Minister said that the fields that students could study in were not limited, because Guyana is booming and will need expertise even in new and emerging sectors.Manickchand asserted that if this had changed and the subjects and/or places of study were now more narrowly defined then, “the fair thing to do would be to so inform the student population so it is unlikely that if indeed there is a change in policy that it could or would affect the batch that Elisa (Hamilton) belongs to.”She added too that she was very proud of the accomplishments of the young lady who should be celebrated.The Minister said she is however, guided by Dr. Luncheon’s pronouncements on the matter that at this point there is no money to make the award, because of the one-twelfth expenditure rule in the absence of an Appropriation Bill. She noted however that this seemed to her to be a temporary matter that could be resolved.Minister Manickchand said the fact that this election is premature is as a direct result of the opposition’s greed for power and that the resultant disruptions on people’s lives should be laid squarely at the feet of a callous, power-hungry opposition.“They laughingly called for early elections without considering the effect it would have on the lives of our citizens,” she added.On the other hand, Opposition’s Chief Whip, Amna Ally expressed that Hamilton’s case simply shows that government is only good at breaking promises even to the youth they so often profess to have a vested interest in.She opined that it is discouraging that youths under the current administration are given “half truths” about government’s plans for them, and urged that others should take note of the President’s treatment of the matter.Her colleague, APNU’s Shadow Minister of Finance, Carl Greenidge, said that he would even add that it is a crying shame that government has not honoured its obligations to the top performing student.He sought to remind that pre-1992, scholarships were awarded to top performers on a policy basis which allowed them to attend colleges of their choice,,regardless of which country it was in.“But the PPP/C stopped that and it is disheartening what they have done to Miss Hamilton. While this principle must go across the board, one must note that our outstanding students deserve no less than the best. And the excuse of not having money is utter nonsense. How did they find money to fund the Marriott Hotel and the Hope Canal that can never finish? They transferred $20B for the sugar industry and tried to transfer $3B to the Central Planning and Housing Authority from the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission.They find monies for their own self-serving purposes and fraudulent projects, but when it comes to supporting and investing in our youth, they suddenly find the convenient construct that they don’t have monies to take care of students abroad on scholarship programmes and those to receive. One can only draw the obvious conclusion that they have no respect for our youth,” Greenidge firmly stated.Willie Horton

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