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Vision on Mission wants Govt to clear air on funding

Wednesday, October 1, 2014
Wayne Chance

Vision on Mission’s Wayne Chance says the statement by Minister of the People Vernella Alleyne Toppin that Government was pulling financing from the organisation has put them under the microscope of international sponsors. Chance said their funders are now under the impression that the organisation was not above board, hence the reason for Government withdrawing its support. He is now calling on the Government to clear the air.

Chance, who returned to Trinidad over the weekend after attending a prison management convention in Brazil, said he was alarmed when he got news that the Government had cut its subvention. However, he said, ministry officials later told him that funding would continue. 

“When I returned home we contacted the ministry. We are now hearing that the subvention is not cut and this statement that was made in Parliament was erroneous. We await the permanent secretary to give us a written response so we can post it online. “The chairman of the Board, John Rougier, was assured that they will correct the error and engage in damage control,” Chance said. 

He said the night after Toppin made her comments, ministry officials contacted his group to request help in picking up a deportee from the airport. “How can they ask for help if they cut our subvention,” Chance asked. He also said the Wallerfield facility Toppin referred to in Parliament belonged to Vision on Mission. Chance said sponsors abroad were now questioning the integrity of the organisation.

“My main concern is one of our financiers in the US is negotiating to buy computers for the facility in Wallerfield. He called us this morning and said this story is not helping. It creates all kinds of question marks about the integrity of our organisation,” Chance said. The inaccurate statements had damaged the credibility of the group, Chance said. For this reason, he intended to publish on his Web site a statement from the ministry denying that the subvention had been cut.

Chance reiterated that Vision on Mission was above board. “There is not a question of misappropriation of funds whatsoever! We get money every three months. When we get $100,000 we bring in the receipts and vouchers before we get another tranche. We have to audit everything so if anyone can check you will see that our fundings and expenditure is dead on target.” 

Chance also said that a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed with the Government two years ago. “The MOU clearly indicates that the only reason the ministry will stop the funding is if there is severe misappropriation of funds,” Chance said.
He noted that Vision on Mission was in the process of building a women’s facility in Claxton Bay. “We have the sponsorship of Republic Bank in this project. That facility will accommodate 50 ex-convicts and between 100-120 women per year,” Chance said. 

Efforts to contact Toppin for comment yesterday proved futile. 

Since the announcement was made in Parliament, several groups have expressed dissatisfaction. Black Power activist Richard Barker held a meeting with deportees and ex-convicts in Barataria on Saturday to discuss the new development. Head of the Emancipation Support Committee Khafra Kambon also called on Government to explain its decision. On Thursday, Toppin said Government had cut its funding to the organisation and instead would pump resources into a government facility at Wallerfield.


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