Arts and Multiculturalism Minister Winston "Gypsy" Peters is steering clear of the controversy surrounding the award of scholarships under the Financial Assistance Fund. Peters, speaking yesterday with reporters at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Roman Catholic Church, Harris Promenade, San Fernando, said the fund no longer existed since his ministry was a new one. The church held a special mass to commemorate the 255th anniversary of Roman Catholic Mission in San Fernando. The mass was officiated by Archbishop Edward Gilbert. Peters said: "I never had anything to do with that fund because my ministry is a brand new ministry called, the Ministry of Arts and Multiculturalism, which has nothing to do with scholarships. It's a new ministry, as I said it has nothing to do with scholarships now."
Allegations of bias and discrimination in the award of scholarships under the funds have been levelled against the former PNM government. Former minister of Culture and Gender Affairs, Joan Yuille Williams, in a statement, denounced the allegations. She said it was "never a scholarship fund." She also threatened to take legal action in the matter. The issue of the scholarship fund was raised last week by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar in Parliament. Peters assured that the National Academy for the Performing Arts (NAPA) South Campus will open as scheduled next Monday.
"We will be meeting the deadline for October 31. I was there a couple of weeks ago and we were 95 per cent complete. We will be meeting the deadline." Construction of the facility began in 2008 at an approved estimated cost of $252 million. However, Minister of Housing and the Environment Dr Roodal Moonilal, who toured the facility in June, said it will be completed at a cost of $350 million. The facility is being built by Shanghai Construction Group. Peters said work was continuing on the Queen's Park Savannah and Carnival lovers could look forward to new innovations in 2012.