Over $90M in scholarships given to APNU Ministers, children could have trained over 600 Guyanese – Hamilton

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Minister of Labour Joseph Hamilton on Monday chided the APNU-AFC Parliamentary Opposition for investing in costly scholarships for government ministers and their children while they were in office instead of training more Guyanese.

Mr. Hamilton opened the 2024 National Budget Debates in the National Assembly for the government, at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre at Liliendaal, Georgetown.

The debates got underway one week after Finance Minister Dr. Ashni Singh presented Guyana’s first trillion-dollar budget. And the Labour Minister started his presentation by critiquing how the APNU+AFC coalition government spent funds while in office from 2015 to 2020.

He pointed out sizable scholarships given to Former Minister within the Ministry of Public Infrastructure Annette Ferguson ($2.68M); Former Education Minister Nicolette Henry ($10.4M); Former Minister of Public Service Tabitha Sarabo- Halley ($2.68M); along with the daughter of Former Minister Simona Broomes (46.8M) and her son ($28.1M).

The total amount for these five scholarships amounted to over $90 million, the information presented by Hamilton that will have to be laid over to the National Assembly.

Comparatively, Minister Hamilton said the funds spent on just those five scholarships, could have been used to train about 610 Guyanese.

“And they come to this House with the pretense that they care about the Guyanese economy,” Minister Hamilton said of the Opposition Parliamentarians.

The minister, however, said the People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) isn’t spending on scholarships for government ministers and their children as was done under the APNU+AFC coalition government.

Hamilton said the government was instead investing in expanding training programmes across the country.

According to him, the PPP/C government has spent millions more training thousands of Guyanese since it took office in 2020. From 2020 to 2023, he said, the Board of Industrial Training (BIT) had 11,275 beneficiaries through the implementation of over 500 projects across Guyana. Those beneficiaries were trained in areas such as welding, machinery and early childhood development.

“No minister and their kids,” Hamilton added.

These are all skills, he said, Guyana needs now as its economy expands.

Other training was done in apprenticeships schemes and through the expansion of tertiary level education in Guyana, Hamilton said.

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