Opposition spokesman on economic matters Dr Clyde Mascoll has raised concerns about a possible “breakdown” in the Freundel Stuart Cabinet.
Charging that “Barbados is on a very slippery slope and being poorly managed”, Mascoll told a Barbados Labour Party (BLP) branch meeting in St Michael South Central last evening that recent decisions being articulated by some ministers had been worrying.
“Public policy is being made off the top by these characters to the extent that it appears as though there is nothing called a Cabinet anymore in Barbados where policies are discussed and determined,” he charged.
Mascoll said the most glaring example of this was recent revelations from the Ministry of Finance that it did not approve the granting of bursaries to University of West Indies students who could not afford to pay tuition fees.
Just last month, Minister of Education Ronald Jones told a constituency branch meeting of the Democratic Labour Party that the processing of 1,695 applications for bursaries “took a while”.
Jones said then: “We’ve been working reasonably well with the University of the West Indies, particularly at Cave Hill, to make sure that once [requests] are in, and we have identified the names and they’re going to benefit . . . [these persons] will get [bursaries],” he said. The Minister of Education had initially promised that the Government would have provided 3,000 bursaries.
Mascoll described the Minister’s announcement as one of “instant policy”.
“It never made sense to me. If the Government is having a problem spending money and the Government decides on a measure to cut spending at the university how would it then tell everybody who does not have the wherewithal to pay tuition fees to, ‘come to me, the Government, and get a loan’, because it would contradict and defeat the very purpose [for which] the public policy was put in place.
“Now what has unfolded since is remarkable. The Minister of Education never apparently discussed this matter . . . . There has been a breakdown of Cabinet because if the Minister of Education comes to the public with a policy that is being refuted by the Minister of Finance, then you know there has been no discussion of this policy on Thursdays when Cabinet meets and this is perhaps the worst part of it.”