The H Lavity Stoutt Community College (HLSCC) is facing more financial woes, and this time it is placing the institution’s accreditation at risk.
This is according to Premier Andrew Fahie who was making his contribution to the 2019 budget debate in the House of Assembly on Thursday.
“The college told us because of the number of years that they have not received the correct subvention, they are now in jeopardy of losing their accreditation that we work so hard to get,” the Premier said
He said the threat of the territory’s only community college losing its accreditation ‘hurts him to the core’. Premier also raised concern that his administration will be blamed if the college is stripped of its accreditation.
“You know what they are going to say? It happened under the VIP watch’.”
College officials weren’t free to speak?
He said in order for the college to have ‘kept the lights on’, “they had to cut programmes, cut staff, cut nearly everything there, except the grass”.
“As a matter of fact, most of those [college officials] who testified these things to the Standing Finance [Committee]; when I asked them why didn’t you speak before, they said they weren’t given a chance to but now they are free to speak.”
He then went on to challenge his colleagues to dispute those claims.
“I dare any member in this House to get up and say that what I say about the college is not factual … I dare anyone,” he said. However, no member rose to dispute his statement.
The Premier said the college has been experiencing money troubles since 2013 when their subvention from government was cut from $11 million to $8 million.
He said: “Out of the monies that were cut down, the free tuition of the people attending HLSCC which were supposed to be paid separately – which is more than $2 million – they were told to take it out of the $8 million. Which brings them down to $5 million and change.”
The Premier continued: “I was wondering how come the children up there writing without desks, and now I come to understand that the college is — and I quote the words of the acting President — ‘on life support’.”
More debt in other statutory bodies
In the meantime, the National Health Insurance (NHI) scheme is also facing financial difficulties, Fahie pointed out.
“NHI, who is supposed to look after us when we are sick, nearly made us sick when they told us that they were $2 million-and-change in the red,” he said.
Fahie said the information he received during this year’s sitting of the Standing Finance Committee indicates that the NHI was expected to receive some $11.5 million. However, those funds never came.
“So, they started in a deficit, and they said only in February 2019 they received $2.5 million. Now, who has to go and get money for NHI? It ain’t the same government that just reach in?”
The BVI Health Services Authority is also behind by more than $2 million for last year, Fahie said.
Despite not being part of the initial drafting of this year’s budget that was done, for most parts, by the former NDP government, Fahie pledged to find the needed funds for each of the entities as mentioned earlier.
“I lost more and more weight with this budget every time I hear of what is happening in this territory,” Fahie said.
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