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$10,000 school grant will target abject poor and vulnerable, school uniform program stays

by Zena Henry

Government insists that the Peoples Progressive Party (PPP) initiated ‘Because we care’ $10,000 school cash grant was “badly implemented” and under the new Administration, it will target the most vulnerable and poorer students in need of the money.

Discussions are emanating from various sections saying that the $10,000 grant, no matter how little, will go a long way to helping families. Former Education Minister Priya Manickchand, under whom the project took effect, days ago called on the government to keep the program going.

The Administration in earlier reports stated that the October 2014 project was a “political gimmick” leading up to the 2015 elections. Minister of Governance Raphael Trotman told media operatives Wednesday July 15 that the program has been temporarily halted and is currently under review.

The Governance Minister said that Cabinet was advised that the program is “fiscally unsustainable.” He said in studying development economics, “…a grant or a cash transfer has to be targeted, it has to be accompanied or guided by a means test so that you ensure that the most vulnerable in society are the sole or if not, the primary beneficiaries…”

He said to have a grant of $10,000 for every school child without it being focused to those who need it more is not fiscally sustainable for any economy. “So we want to review it to ensure for example, a child that would have previously receive $10,000 but is living in abject poverty would now in fact receive $100,000 where as a child, for example say one of my children going to a private school, would not receive $10,000 because it would be depriving a child who really needs it.”

Trotman opined that “The idea of a grant to children was a good idea but it was badly implemented.”He reiterated that good fiscal and macroeconomic standards will not allow for the continuance of the program in its current state.

Trotman mentioned that government found the school uniform vouchers program was not a bad idea, so that will continued. Government will seek to enhance the initiative, he said.