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The Opposition, A Partnership for National Unity and Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) is accusing Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, Mr. Charles Ramson Jr. of taking the life out of these aspects of Guyana’s development.
According to the Opposition, in a statement read by Critchlow, “over the last two years, Guyanese have witnessed the gradual regression of culture, youth, and sport under the visionless leadership of Minister Charles Ramson, who has managed the herculean task of simultaneously killing theatre, neglecting our athletes, and cutting youth development programmes put in place by the APNU+AFC, while ignoring the works done on the youth, sport, and cultural policies.”
The minister has been accused of using the ministry as his personal playground and neglecting the needs of sportsmen and women, cultural practitioners, and the youth of Guyana. To this end the Opposition raised concerns on the following: –
CULTURE -the alleged diminished role of the Director of Culture; and allegation of conflict of interest and nepotism in the ministry with the employment of a close relative to the minister.
According to Critchlow the opposition has received numerous complaints from local artists about the disrespect they endured during the cricket carnival activities.
The coalition said they note the ‘top-up’ $6.9 Million President Irfaan Ali has offered to artists who performed at the “one Guyana” Concert a top-up on the agreed sums to the tune of $6.9m.
“While we are happy for those artists who received these payments, it is necessary to recall that during the cricket carnival period there were many other events and concerts outside of the one Guyana concert.” And one such concert was the Night of Legends where artists were allegedly not paid on advice from a minister the concert did not make money so they could not be paid.
“ The Ministry eventually reached an agreement with those artists and paid them half of the agreed sum. Mind you, this is the same government that doled out billions to support the cricket carnival and then paid only the artists who performed at the one Guyana concert while the performers from the Night of Legends had to settle for half.”
“It was also noted that local producers seeking to rent The National Cultural Center (NCC) are now subject to having to call the Minister directly for him to give permission. So bad is the situation that the producer of one of the longest running yearly satirical reviews, reportedly had to have her husband call President Irfaan Ali to instruct Minister Ramson to allow them to rent the NCC after the Minister allegedly refused to give permission. One would remember that the theatre community pushed back after he tried to unilaterally raise the rental cost of the NCC by more than 300%.
“Finally, we take note of the concerns of the theatre fraternity over the continued absence of the National Drama Festival, which was taken from under the control of the National School of Theatre Arts and Drama (NSTAD). At a meeting with producers and actors two weeks ago, the Minister while pitching an idea to support four serious theatrical productions a year suggested that the National Drama Festival was too expensive.
“We certainly hope that this is not the excuse proffered by the Minister, especially in light of the recent splurging on Cricket Carnival. While we welcome any support the ministry is willing to give to our local seasoned actors, we cannot neglect the National Drama Festival which offers a fertile ground for the discovery of new talent from all across the country. We hope the Ministry continues to fund it.
“ON YOUTH – When Minister Ramson took up the post, he met a department of youth that was working to bring training and development to especially disadvantaged young people of our country.
“The department of youth which is supposed to have a professional public servant as a director is being headed by a PPP party hack. Consequently, training centres are becoming white elephants. For example, the Sophia training centre has not seen any new programmes in over two years and the centre has seen multiple cuts to courses and programmes that benefited girls.
“It must be noted that:
“The APNU+AFC implemented a number of night schools aimed at giving mature students a second chance to write CXC. The Minister closed them. It is interesting to note that when the Minister refused to fund those night schools it was IDPADA-G which had picked up the slack and funded them. The PPP vindictively defunded that organisation.
“Additionally, the APNU+AFC government was funding musical corps in Berbice, and Linden, but that funding was also cut by the Minister. One is left to wonder how you could have an anti -youth, an anti- sport, and anti- culture person head the Ministry of Youth, Culture and Sport. The Minister of Culture Youth and Sport needs to rethink his position and reinstate funding for these programmes for our young people.
“ON SPORT – All we will ask at this point on Sport is for the Minister and the National Sports Commission to show Guyanese where the $3.2 Billion allocated to the development of sport has gone. The recent revelations by our national athletes, including national boxer Keevin Allicock, have indicated that those billions have not gone into helping them.
“It is clear that Minister Ramson believes that the management of youth, sport and culture is about the three minutes he (Minister Ramson) spends speaking about his portfolio responsibility in his budget presentation earlier this year. The Minister seems to be drowning in his own incompetence. Unfortunately, he is killing youth, sport and culture when there is need for development. Our athletes, artists and youths need a serious Minister, and it cannot be Charles Ramson.”