Minister of Youth, Roland Bhola has announced that 35 trainees have been suspended from the Imani programme based on complaints from the public.
Speaking in Parliament, Minister Bhola said the suspensions are not indefinitely but were done as a form of disciplinary action against these Imanis.
He announced that a Complaints desk has been set up at the Ministry of Youth to handle complaints and concerns from the public about any trainee.
He said the government agreed to this course of action in light of the utterances from the public on those call-in radio programmes about the behavior of some IMANIS.
“We also have established at the Youth Centre what is called a Complaints desk because from time to time we will hear on some of our talk shows and radio programmes, people are calling and complaining or they are making noises of what they perceive to be a wastage of government’s resources…”, he told Parliament.
However, Minister Bhola was quick to point out that in many cases the complaints made by these people against Imanis are “not absolutely true” but “it is a perception of what they think”.
He chided some people for levelling complaints at times that Imanis are often seen at home and not on the job and wasting the resources of the State.
“…Mr. Speaker like I said, the IMANI itself has many facilities, there are many people who are engaged in the IMANI that are not placed at a job training … simply because they are engaged in the other skills training or probably in academic training”, he said.
“So, for example there are people who are engaged in the IMANI Programme that are now full-time students at TAMCC because we also embark on developing the academic pursuits of some of our trainees.
You may well likely see someone that you know is an IMANI Trainee and probably see them home at a particular time of the day and you may think that this is a person receiving a stipend and receiving government money and not doing anything,” he added.
According to Minister Bhola, there is a hotline at the Complaints desk for persons to call and over one thousand complaints have so far been made against Imanis.
“On the period under the review, Mr. Speaker I would just like to let the people know…so far we have received 1104 complaints at the Complaints desk and I feel very happy to know that we have been able to deal with 95% of those complaints that came in.
“…We also have Mr. Speaker at the Youth Centre, a Disciplinary Committee that would listen to sometime some of the complaints (that) the people at the Complaints desk think that it warrants going forward than just a complaint and an answer.
“So far 138 trainees for the period January to June (have) been brought before the Disciplinary Committee and were dealt with and 35 of those trainees Mr. Speaker (have) been suspended – some for a period of time. I do not believe that there is any permanent suspension but there has to be disciplinary action taken.
Minister Bhola conceded that the Imani programme is not perfect but it is well received by the nation on the whole.
“We are not in any way saying that the programme is perfect but there are still some areas that needs improvement. There are still some areas that we are working with and we are endeavouring to do our very best…”, he said.
He spoke of the need to ensure “that we get our trainees on the right path but most importantly that (the programme) will bring value for money and satisfaction to the Grenadian public that the tremendous investment that government is making in our young people is worth the while and is worthy of being emulated”.
The Keith Mitchell-led ruling New National Party (NNP) administration has been using the Imani programme as the flagship to tackle high youth unemployment in the country.