ACTING Prime Minister Manasseh Maelanga says the National Training Unit is the only authority that has the power to approve or decline additional scholarship requests by MPs besides the Cabinet’s approved quota of four scholarship opportunities for each constituency.
The clarification was made in response to a media statement by the Leader of the Independent Group, Dr Derek Sikua accusing ministers and senior government backbenchers for requesting additional scholarships for students from their constituencies.
A statement from the Prime Minister’s Office said a considerable number of MPs were pressured by their constituents to request additional scholarships beyond the quota of 4 awards as the demand for tertiary education keeps growing every New Year.
Mr Maelanga said this situation has put MPs, especially, ministers and backbenchers in an awkward situation but has to fulfil the education needs of their constituents.
Mr Maelanga further clarified neither, the Members of Parliament, nor the Prime Minister or the Deputy Prime Minister has ever given any directive to the NTU authorities to prioritize their requests for additional scholarships.
“The final approval for scholarship awards rest with the NTU. Whether they approve or decline requests by MPs, that is their authority,” Mr Maelanga said.
The Government has acknowledged that several MPs were under immense pressure to satisfy their constituents and is also aware of the situation raised by the Leader of Independents but it has never given any directive to the NTU to give them extra privileges.