By Kurt Campbell
[www.inewsguyana.com] – The governing party – the People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) – has expressed the view that the Critchlow Labour College lacks good governance and accountability and as such initially rejected a motion in the National Assembly on Thursday (February 27) piloted by Alliance For Change (AFC) Member of Parliament Trevor Williams for the restoration of the college’s annual subvention.
However, after hours of heated debate on the topic, the motion was passed for the restoration of subvention along with an amendment which states that as a precondition to the provision of the subvention that the Board of Directors of the College be comprised of four representatives of Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Guyana (FITUG) and four from the Trades Union Congress (TUC).
Williams in defending his motion contended that the National Assembly should apply pressure on the government to restore the full subvention which will in turn allow the college to be reopened to its full capacity.
He said the withdrawal of the subvention had significantly reduced the college’s capacity to offer education at its three campuses which later collapsed ‘ruining the hope of thousands of Guyanese’.
He argued that government’s contention that the College had misused its funds was not a good enough reason for the withdrawal of the subvention. “There are things that can deal with that, we have the public accounts committee and the audit office that could deal with… it is unreasonable, unjust and unfair,” Williams added.
He told the House that as a result the College now offers a significantly reduced curriculum thereby limiting the options of those desirous of higher education. The AFC MP reminded of times past when the institution offered affordable education and convenient education to persons who stumbled academically.
Meanwhile, Labour Minister Dr. Nanda Gopaul opined that the motion had no utilitarian value. He said the issues of the college are integrally linked to the problems of the labour movement in Guyana, which is acute.
He expressed the view that the college cannot attract the type of programs and persons as it once attracted if a rift between the labour movements are not resolved.
“Could you believe a GAWU member never served as presidency despite having as largest block of delegation?” Gopaul questioned.
Also contributing to the debate were AFC’s Moses Nagamoottoo, APNU’s Rupert Roopnarine and Basil Williams and PPP’s Manzoor Nadir. Between the four, there were arguments back and forth on the motion.
Roopnarine claimed that the withdrawal came at a point when the college was expanding its programs and increasing capacity. According to him, Critchlow has become the victim of the struggles within the labour movement.
He urged the House not to fail to work towards the restoration while arrangements are made to give the comfort the government requires, including a Board that will consist equally of the members from the two main labour movements.
To this end, Nadir agreed that if the motion was amended to include such an amendment the administration would support same. The motion was amended and passed.