The International Monetary Fund (IMF) last week told the Government to slowdown on tertiary scholarships for next year. This follows a chaotic year in SIG funded scholarship as it hit more than half a billion dollar for the first time.
It’s unfortunate that external advisors have to tell us to operate within our means when we know very well that that we’ve been doing is untenable.
Besides scholarships, IMF’s suggestion to the government also includes cutting down on Constituency Development Fund and another political funding, the Shipping Grants. The CDF and shipping grants are allocated to politicians with the latter mostly to those on the government bench.
Regardless of the IMF suggestion, it is doubtful that the government is going to chop funding to these areas given their political nature.
In that regard, it is important that the government practices impartiality on the awarding of scholarships at the end of the year. At the close of the applications last Friday, sources close to the Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development have indicated that that this year’s applications have surpassed the preceding years. With just 200 spaces available for high performing students and another 100 for shared costs, many students are likely to miss out even though they are going to score high marks. In that respect, the government must consider another option one of which is to make the political scholarships competitive or give it to the MEHRD to administer it based on merit.
By doing that, we may be able to keep the numbers down and spend within the budgeted figures.
We can’t allow the government to live beyond it means for another year as other social sectors continue to suffer this year and will do so based on this government’s past three years in the office.
Government services are obviously below expectations. The none attendance to roads, rundown hospitals and clinics and the delay in school grants are results of lack of money for the most basic sectors to continue to operate normally.
The government must listen to sound advice otherwise the delivery of public services would continue to decline as funds are eaten up by programs mostly associated with our politicians.