Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 23rd 2017 Contents news A15
Thursday, March 23, 2017 guardian.co.tt
Government is awaiting the
findings of an evaluation being
done by the Ministry of Plan-
ning before it takes a decision
on whether the Citizens Secu-
rity Programme (CSP) will be
But even as it undertakes the
evaluation and review of the pro-
gramme, National Security Min-
ister Edmund Dillon said Cabinet
had agreed to provide an addi-
tional $25 million under the 2017
Public Sector Investment Pro-
gramme(PSIP) to meet contractual
obligations and for the programme to
continue up to April 4.
Dillon was responding to a mo-
tion brought by Opposition Senator
Khadijah Ameen on the adjournment
of the Senate on Tuesday, in which she
raised concerns that the programme
but "employees and stakeholders
have no word on whether the pro-
gramme will continue."
The CSP was started in 2008 un-
der a loan agreement between this
country and the Inter-American De-
Ameen said it was hoped that the pro-
gramme would have resulted "in a re-
duction in levels of homicides, rob-
beries and woundings and to increase
the perception of safety."
It was also aimed she said at "re-
ducing injuries related to firearms,
child mal-treatment, domestic vi-
olence and youth violence."
At a time when there is "an in-
crease in violent crimes and mur-
ders" and where "in every part of
Trinidad and Tobago citizens are at
risk," Ameen said it was important
for the Minister to "give justification
as to what decision his government
takes with regard to the Citizens
The programme she said also
addressed issues of school violence,
"today we seeing so many children being
injured through bullying and violence in schools."
But Dillon could provide no immediate answer on the
future of the programme which was started under now
deceased Minister Martin Joseph. He said the programme
had been extended on two occasions 2014-to-2016 and
Dillon said Cabinet also agreed that outstanding bal-
ances on contracts going beyond 2017 which are estimated
at $15.1 million will be met from the budgetary allocation
in the PSIP of existing counterpart resources.
Original budget stretched---Sloane-Seale
Programme Co-ordinator of the Citizens Security Pro-
gramme Gregory Sloan-Seale told the T&T Guardian that
the CSP's original six year (2008-2014) budget of US$35m
was stretched to over a nine year period (2008 - 2017).
He said as at the end of the loan agreement "on December
15, 2016 we had only spent 83 per cent of that total (rough-
ly TT$185m ) and completed 81 per cent of what we had
targeted, with expected outcomes of crime and violence
reduction and building collective efficacy."
But Sloane Seale said in the recent past the programme
had been "stymied by the indecision in terms of doing what
needs to be done."
He said they have "interim funding through the PSIP to
see them through to September 30 and currently they are
"in the process of completing all service contracts."
They have also done a proposal he said with a budget to
move over a three-year period.
Overseas scholarship students are facing a
bleak month because it now appears that they
will not get their allowance on time.
They said the situation was in contravention of
the contract which they signed with the Ministry
However, Education Minister Anthony Garcia as-
sured that the problem which may be linked to the coun-
try's foreign exchange situation will be ironed out soon.
Chris Martin, a student in London, wrote to the T&T
Guardian expressing con-
cern about the "extreme-
ly late and still unpaid
allowances for students
on scholarship abroad."
Martin noted that he
decided to write the
letter because they
had "reached breaking
He said, "this is not a
letter meant to complain
about the way scholars
Nor is this a letter to complain about the gener-
al cluelessness of everyone you try to speak to at
the Ministry of Education about late allowances.
This is not even a letter to talk about the numerous
sources that suggest the scholarship allowance is
grossly under par for what a student needs just to
cover basic costs of living.
"No, this is a letter written by a student who has
tolerated all of those things and has finally reached his
breaking point with the latest act of complete disregard
for the welfare of the students abroad."
Martin said the allowances were due three weeks ago and
"numerous attempts to discuss the matter with the Ministry have
led to empty promises about the allowance arriving soon," but he said
they are still waiting.
Following "persisting questioning" of a Ministry official he said they
learnt "of a change in the schedule of payments."
But the change he said "leaves us with no allowance for the entirety of
March, or at least for the last 17 days and until such a time as the Ministry
sees fit to do us the favour of adhering to the contract we signed and
paying our allowances."
Martin said the situation he and other foreign students face is "akin
to your employer telling you he's not going to pay your salary for three
weeks after it is due and, who knows, he may wait even longer based on
how he feels. This is what we are going through right now. This is what
it means to receive a scholarship from the Ministry of Education."
But Minister Garcia expressed surprise at the situation saying his
Ministry had put "things in place to ensure that the students get their
allowances on time."
Garcia explained that students on scholarships are "paid a personal
maintenance allowance. The cheques for payment are sent to the Unit
Trust Corporation (UTC) which then disburses the funds to the students
in the various countries and in the currency of the country the student
He said based on complaints, the Ministry investigated the matter and
"we have evidence by way of cheque numbers that they were sent to the
UTC." He said an officer from his Ministry has been asked to meet with
the UTC on the issue.
Garcia admitted that the problem may stem from the current foreign
exchange situation in the country, saying "one of the challenges which
the UTC faces is the inability to get foreign exchange, so that is stymieing
the process, but we want to ensure that this is ironed out."
Efforts to contact UTC officials on the matter proved futile.
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