Saying the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT) belongs to all tax payers, former Tertiary Education and Skills Training Minister Fazal Karim has called on Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and his government to come clean on planned lay-offs at the university.
The Chaguanas East MP said that after a meeting, which lasted for several hours, on Tuesday between Education Minister Anthony Garcia and the UTT Board, the single “and shameful solution” reported, was that an internal audit is underway on university’s staff, students and programmes.
Absolutely nothing, Karim said, has been done to allay the fears of UTT staff, who received a premature notification last week that the management structure will be reduced by 40 per cent; the academic body by 25 per cent and; corporate body by 50 per cent.
UTT was allocated $200 million in the fiscal 2018 national budget as compared to the initial budgeted allocation of $420 million in fiscal 2016, representing a 52 per cent cut in a matter of two years under Rowley’s government.
Garcia must come clean, Karim said, and tell the population how UTT intends to address this precipitous budgetary cut without sending home hundreds of UTT staff and denying thousands of students a tertiary education. The PNM must be open and transparent with the UTT staff. Has the State committed to allocate additional sums of monies to buffer UTT’s 2018 allocation or is this more PNM propaganda, Karim asked.
The back door dealings between the Ministers of Education and the UTT Board of Governors, “are nothing short of reactive, disingenuous and a clear plot to deflect negative publicity”, after reports surfaced about imminent job cuts at UTT.
He said it is clear the UTT does not have a sustainable plan to boost student enrolment, generate new sources of revenue, utilise the $2 billion UTT Tamana Campus or retain staff.