Asked yesterday to explain the criteria for the selection of scholars, the nature of the scholarship programme and whether there were attempts to have it publicly advertised, Yuille-Williams said, “This is Newsday? I know this is Newsday from the number. I will call you back.” She then hung up.
When asked, in a second interview, if the scholarships, valued at a total of $45 million, were ever advertised, she said, “It is in the social sector programme. It’s there.” But she would not specify further. “They are all over, all around. Don’t push it. I don’t mean to be rude but don’t push it,” she said.
Asked if there was a clear criteria for the scholarships, and in particular whether the scholarships were awarded to persons in need, she said, “yes, it was for people who need it.” She said the grants were not scholarships. “They are not scholarships, they are financial assistance,” she said. Newsday understands that Culture Minister Marlene Mc Donald is due to make a statement on the issue in Parliament today.
Yesterday, Opposition Leader Basdeo Panday called for action to be taken against Mc Donald in relation to her handling of the disclosure of a list of scholarship recipient from her ministry. In a press release issued yesterday, Panday alleged that the list disclosed to the Indo-Trinbago Equalities Council (ITEC) “reeks of secrecy, corruption and lies.”
In relation to reports that there may be errors on the list, Panday said, “when the matter of the scholarships was raised in Parliament by the Opposition, Minister Mc Donald refused to divulge information. It took a court order to have her ministry reveal the information and now we are seeing that the list contains information that is not true.”
In relation to a separate matter, Panday made a request for the names of persons who received houses under the Housing Development Corporation and the recipients of loans through the National Entrepreneurship Development Company to be revealed.
“This is how the Government of the day deals with transparency,” Panday said. “Look at the Maha Sabha radio licence issue, matters of equal opportunities and that of Caroni workers. These are just a few of the issues which this PNM government refused to abide by when judgments were handed down by the courts.”