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Trinidad: $26M SCHOL ‘SKUL’ -$13M GONE

ROUGHLY $26m is owed to the State by people who accessed national scholarships but either failed to perform the obligatory work in the public service, or did not complete their studies and did not repay the value of the scholarship awarded to them.

These and other figures are spelled out in the Report of the Auditor General on the Public Accounts for 2019, recently laid in Parliament.

The report detailed tens of millions of dollars spent to fund about 400 scholarships annually and also hit the Ministry of Education for abject record keeping practises in which paper files on scholarship winners were irretrievably damaged while in storage and thus no evidence could be shown on awardees’ indebtedness which led to millions of dollars in debt being written-off.

From 2012-2018, according to the report, $862 million was spent on President’s Medal plus Open and Additional scholarships for the CAPE (C’bean Advanced Proficiency Exam). In 2018 alone, $3 million was paid towards the President’s Medal and $144 million for 377 CAPE scholarships.

The period of obligatory service ranges from one year for a scholarship of up to $100,000, to five years for awards valued over $600,000, the report indicated.

During the period 2012 to 2019, 141 scholars failed to perform their obligatory service and of this, the Auditor General had no details on 21 awardees.

The other 120 were found to collectively owe $58 million and of this, $32m has since been repaid, but $26m is still owed.

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