Special Audit into UG’s finances at stand-still due to uncertainty on payment plan
The special audit into the finances at the University of Guyana (UG) is at a standstill as authorities are yet to figure out who will stand the expense to conduct the probe.
This is according to Auditor General, Deodat Sharma, who told the Guyana Times that although the payment plan has not yet been finalised, plans are still onboard to have the audit done.
“We still got it in plans… we are still waiting to hear but we have not gone in as yet and at the same time also, there is the main issue of who going to pay the fees, we got to really get that clarified. The Education Ministry’s Permanent Secretary had stopped the audit, so if we go ahead, somebody has to pay the fees. Normally, we have got to ensure that somebody acknowledges the payment,” he stated.
The Auditor General noted that no ground work has been done as yet while noting that other options to conduct the audit may have to be utilised.
Initially, the Audit Office of Guyana had contracted an independent company to conduct the much-needed and highly anticipated audit into UG – in light of allegations of mismanagement of funds.
This particular audit was first ordered by the Education Ministry after a request was made by the two workers’ unions at UG to have such an investigation launched. The Ministry was reportedly going to stand the expense associated with the investigation.
Shortly after the independent company commenced its work into the matter, the Education Ministry withdrew its request for the audit, with no explanation given. Almost two months ago, AG Sharma has noted that the backlog of years UG did not complete its audited financial statements was a cause for worry.
Sharma, whose agency audits Government’s public accounts on an annual basis, explained the importance of having those accounts edited to 2018. He was not convinced about the UG administration’s sincerity in clearing this backlog.
The University of Guyana Senior Staff Association (UGSSA) and University of Guyana Workers Union (UGWU) have levelled these accusations, in particular. The Unions had joined forces to question why monies were allocated in previous budgets to entities which do not exist and what became of those funds.
They had also demanded answers from the administration on how much money was spent on nonessential events within the last two and half years – which included, but were not limited to, the Law and Society series, the Turkeyen-Tain talks, and the Vice-Chancellor’s installation ceremony.
They had argued that while these monies were being spent, the core units of the University, which include faculties and schools, had been informed that no money is available for essential repairs and payment for stationery, among others.
In his 2016 Audit Report, Sharma had found that $209 million had been unaccounted for from the University of Guyana’s Science and Technology Support Project, funded by the Government of Guyana (GoG) and the International Development Association (IDA) under Credit Agreement No 4969-GY.
However, the University had insisted that the monies were used for infrastructure projects on the campus, including a fibre optic cable to provide students with Wi-Fi.
It had also noted that some of the monies were used to renovate the faculty buildings.