Categorized | National News

PM Promises to Address COB Fees

Despite being turned away from sitting in a House of Assembly session yesterday morning, members of The College of The Bahamas’ Union of Students (COBUS) got the opportunity to speak with the prime minister outside.

Prime Minister Perry Christie, despite getting in a voice raising competition with the mother of a student outside Parliament, promised COBUS representatives that he would address the issue of fee increases at the college.

However, the prime minister shocked the students when he told them that he didn’t even know of the fee increases and only became aware of the issue when he read of it in the newspaper.

Since Tuesday, the students have been protesting against COB’s recent announcement to increase student fees and introduce new ones.

During that brief dialogue with the COBUS yesterday the prime minister told the students that they weren’t in fact going about the situation the right way by gathering outside the House of Assembly.

“The matter hasn’t been brought before the government and I do not want to argue over what may or may not happen,” he said.

“There is a right way of going about things and you have to know what that right way is,” he said. speaking to the students. “Only because I am who I am, I’m over here talking to you now. But the right way is not meeting me in a public place like this to discuss the matters of the college.”

Bahamas Public Services Union President John Pinder also jumped in saying that he too had tried to meet with the prime minister about the situation.

However, Prime Minister Christie said, “It is inconceivable to me that I would engage in any hostile act against college students without first talking to them. To me, a big storm was created in a teacup and I don’t understand what it’s all about. I had to come in today and ask my minister of state for finance if he knew what the commotion was all about.”

Speaking about the police denying the students access to the House of Assembly, the prime minister defended the officers saying, “When it comes down to the police, we have to come to understand, whether we like it or not that they have the authority to interpret their intelligence and to apply their intelligence.”

“You can question them or challenge them and you can do it publicly. But they have an unfettered right to do that.”
COBUS President Ernesto Williams responding to the prime minister said, “The College of The Bahamas already said that they went to the Ministry of Finance on Thursday of last week. They said they came to your ministry with recommendations and last week Wednesday had passed against me and the UTEB president to have these fees increased.”

“Students have already seen these fees on their bills. Students have already came in my office crying. My thing is if at the end of the day, we’re discussing this and we’re seeing a problem, obviously it shows a problem with the executive leadership of the college.”

“Somewhere along the lines, someone is not telling the complete truth.”

Mr. Williams said that the college sent out a press release surrounding the increase in fees regardless of how the students felt.

It is expected that within the coming days COBUS representatives will continue to protest.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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