Retrenchment warning at MIC

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

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