Retrenchment is looming at MIC Institute of Technology—if not by year end—but not far off “the horizon” if funding continues to be tight, says MIC chairman Prof Clement Imbert.
Imbert gave the projection when MIC officials appeared on Monday before Parliament’s oversight committee on State Enterprises chaired by Anthony Vieira.
Imbert said MIC has 1,900 trainees, much fewer than before. Government subvention has sustained a 50 per cent cut in the last three years and this is reflected in trainee reductions.
“There’s an industry for training but we can only spend what we have and we’ve had to do sufficiently with less,” Imbert added.
Questioned by committee member Fazal Karim on possible staff reduction, MIC CEO Anil Ramnarine attempted to assure that was not on.
However, Imbert intervened, saying, “Let me contradict my CEO, if we don’t have the money, we’ll have to retrench. As the highest cost in the budget is wages, if we don’t have money, we’ll have to retrench. There are no immediate plans, but it may not be too far off the horizon if funding remains as is.”
He projected this could occur if the unavailability of funding continues. Imbert did not think cuts could come by year-end but maybe, two or three years. He said MIC usually got generous subventions and had surpluses and the latter is what MIC has been using in the last two and a half years to survive and ensure people are not sent home.
“We’ve tried to avoid massive retrenchment but will be unable to if this (funding issue) continues, it (retrenchment) may be unavoidable,” Imbert added.
Lack of subvention has caused MIC to halt one welding programme. But he said even if staff and trainees were reduced, emoluments do not remain static. If given his wishes, Imbert said MIC needed more money for training and he hoped the country would awake to that fact that “we have to spend more money on innovations.”
Education permanent secretary (acting) Lenore Baptiste-Simmons said subventions depended on the Finance Ministry and state of the economy. She said MIC should make a submission which would go to Finance for mid-year review consideration. Imbert said a submission was made. “We’re in dire, dire, straits right now,” he added.
Finance deputy PS (Investment Division) Jennifer Latchman said given scarce resources the ministry has to distribute accordingly, but any Education/MIC submission for the review would be considered. Committee chairman Vieira said he hoped authorities understood the need for funding.
Imbert also confirmed that the MIC was working toward absorbing the National Energy Skills Centre (NESC) whose Laventille compound MIC uses.
He said he was trying to persuade authorities on rationalising the entire technical-vocational sector and MIC’s assumed over 90 per cent of NESC’s programmes, he added.
“But people don’t like to give up territory easily and I’m sure there’ll be resistance but it’s something we’re working towards. In this ‘guava season,’ we can’t have people duplicating things.”
Reporter: Gail Alexander