Monday, October 22, 2012

Manning administration abused state funds in granting 'scholarship' through Community Development

The accounting firm Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC) has submitted to government a preliminary report on the award of the controversial Community Development Scholarship Programme (CDSP) awarded by the People’s National Movement (PNM) administration under then minister Joan Yuille-Williams.
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar has stated that the PNM regime's Community Development scholarship programme practised “shameless, rampant discrimination" and was essentially a  "slush fund" for supporters of the PNM.

The Manning administration established the fund in 2003 with an initial budget of  $45 million.

The Guardian newspaper says it has seen the report and has published some of the key findings.
Here are some of the findings as reported in the Guardian:
  • $49.9 million was disbursed between 2003 and 2007 because “a portion of these disbursements did not actually reach the beneficiary and was not returned to the programme due to a lack of proper monitoring, communication, timelines of the processing of applications, and overall controls.”
  • On several occasions funds were disbursed to overseas institutions for tuition payment and the student was not registered. In that case, the funds were returned to the treasury but not to the ministry and was effectively “lost,” as “they remained in the Consolidated Fund as a suspense item.”
  • PwC revealed the programme was not established or administered as a scholarship programme and there was no change in policy directives initially set up by Cabinet. “The programme was established (and subsequently managed) as a financial assistance or support programme and not a scholarship programme.”
  • Recipients were not required to enter into an agreement for obligatory service upon completion or repayment of funding to the Government, while no unit or division was established within the ministry to administer the programme
  • Over 400 recipients received payments directly via cheque totalling $6.5 million
  • There were instances of recipients/beneficiaries of funding where no application was on file
  • 26 people benefitted from funding on three occasions, while 172 benefitted twice. One particular applicant was already enrolled at an institution and benefitted from funding in 2004 and 2006. The person submitted three applications which were dated “the same day in 2007, listing different programmes at different institutions.” This applicant applied each year from 2005 to 2011
  • Students benefitted from funding for multiple years for attendance at different institutions, pursuing different programmes
  • Cheques made out in students' names were collected and signed for by employees on the students’ behalf

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Jai & Sero

Jai & Sero

Our family at home in Toronto 2008

Our family at home in Toronto 2008
Amit, Heather, Fuzz, Aj, Jiv, Shiva, Rampa, Sero, Jai