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Govt Pays No Fees Whatsoever for Cuban Scholarship Students!

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Prime Minister takes issue with Star headline and says:
Govt Pays No Fees Whatsoever for Cuban Scholarship Students!

Monday, August 23, 2004 – Prime Minister, Dr Kenny D. Anthony has expressed extreme disappointment with the front page headline in Monday’s (August 23) issue of the Star newspaper, which states that the Government is unable to pay “school fees” for St. Lucian students pursuing scholarship studies in Cuba.

The Star states in its headline: “Kenny Can’t Pay Cuba School Fees!” It also adds that the affected students are “outraged.”

The Prime Minister said: “This headline is really unfortunate, as it gives the impression that the government is unable to pay school fees for St. Lucian students studying in Cuba.”

He explained: “The fact is that the Government of St. Lucia has never, ever had to pay school fees for St. Lucian students, nor do the students have to pay for boarding, lodging or meals in Cuba, the costs of which are borne by the Government of Cuba.”

According to Dr Anthony, “What the Government of St. Lucia offered each student in Cuba up to now was US$1,000 per year for a return trip home and US$100 monthly as a stipend.”

But while the Government was able to, and kept that commitment, in view of the heavy annual costs, the Government announced in its last Budget Address why it now has to review that situation. He recalled that the government also announced what the new arrangements would be back in April.

The Prime Minister said at its meeting of Monday, August 3, 2004, the Cabinet of Ministers agreed to the establishment of a Loan Guarantee facility on behalf of the holders of Cuban scholarships.

Under the loan guarantee facility, which is being administered by the Bank of St. Lucia, students studying in Cuba can borrow between EC$9,720 and EC$70,000 each, with 85% of the guaranteed loan amount to be reimbursed. The lending institution is expected to assume liability for the other 15% of the guaranteed loan amount.

This facility came into force on August 1, 2004 for new students going to Cuba this year, and will come into force from August 1, 2005 for those who are already in Cuba.

The Prime Minister has indicated that he will certainly consider the report of the meeting between the students and Ministry and Treasury officials, and emphasised that existing students will not be affected by the new regime until next year.

Prime Minister Anthony says the Ministry of Finance will continue to work with the Bank of St. Lucia to ensure the conditions for the loans are not onerous or burdensome for the students.


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