Biman questions Burchell’s email

National Federation Party leader Dr Biman Prasad during a press conference. Picture: FT FILE/RAMA

THE National Federation Party (NFP) has asked the Ministry of Education permanent secretary, Alison Burchell, to explain an electronic mail (email) she had sent out to all school owners, including religious, cultural and community organisations on August 19, 2018, warning their officials not to involve themselves in political campaigning in the lead-up to the elections.

In a statement, party leader Professor Biman Prasad claimed Ms Burchell had told officials of community organisations that they may not campaign for a political party because they were recipients of funding from Government and these officials were therefore in the same position as civil servants.

He said this was ridiculous and on this logic, everyone who received social welfare payments, received free bus fares and everyone who had received a Homes-Care grant must not campaign as they too were recipients of funding from Government.

“School owners provide services to Government. The Government pays them to provide those services. That does not make their officials civil servants,” Prof Prasad said.

“Every citizen has political rights under Section 23 of the Constitution. They are not restricted from exercising these rights because they ‘receive funding from the Government’.”

When asked for comments on the email and on the claims made by Prof Prasad, Ms Burchell said she would not comment on the issue.

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