UG allocates funds to non-existent units – unions claim
As the University of Guyana (UG) and its workers’ unions, as well as the Senior Staff Association remain at loggerheads over wages dispute, the Unions have accused the University of allocating funds to units which are non-existent.
On Saturday, the UG Senior Staff Association (UGSSA) and the UG Workers Union (UGWU), in continuing its call for a financial audit on the University’s expenditures said, “Last year, there were funds allocated for the Diaspora Centre and the Centre of Excellence for Teaching and Learning. These units did not exist last year (and the Centre of Excellence for Teaching and Learning was only launched on Wednesday, February 13, 2019) but funds were allocated to them and there has been no explanation given about what happened to those funds”.
In this regard, the Unions stressed that question marks still linger around the University’s Turkeyen campus, on whether all the units that are currently being funded at the University really exist.
The UGSSA and UGWU in a statement to the media argued that the core units of the University, which include faculties and schools have been informed that no money is available for essential repairs and payment for stationery, among others although funds appear to be spent on various lectures, conferences and symposia as well as trips abroad for senior administrators.
The Unions have joined forces and are questioning why monies were allocated in previous budgets to entities which do not exist and moreover, what became of those funds.
They are also demanding answers from the administration on how much money was spent on non-essential events in the last two and half years, which include but are not limited to the Law and Society series, the Turkeyen-Tain talks, and the Vice-Chancellor’s installation ceremony.
In fact, the Unions said they would like to see the breakdown of any donations made, whether in cash or in kind, along with the University’s own spending.
The Unions are also questioning how much money was spent on travel abroad by senior administrators of the University.
According to the Unions, the income and expenditure statements for 2018 show that only one of the faculties/schools overspent its budget. “However, all of the units headed by the DVCs (Deputy Vice-Chancellors) and the VC’s (Vice-Chancellors) own unit (the Vice-Chancellery) overspent their budgets.”
They added that answers are still being sought on income of the University, such as if all the University’s income streams for the last two and half years are properly accounted for, given that a statement of the University’s gifts and grants received for the last two and half years has never been presented to the current Council, whose first meeting was held on March 8, 2018.
The UGSSA and UGWU are adamant that the public should know that there has been no meeting of the Audit Committee of the current Council nor have there been any audited statements of the University since 2014.
The Unions said they were made to understand that the University’s senior administration paid themselves the three per cent increase that was imposed on staff in December 2018.
“The Vice-Chancellor was included in this payment, and he also received two bonuses last year – his bonus for 2017 and also one for 2018. He, therefore, received three additional payments from the University in 2018, notwithstanding his own very substantial package of salary and benefits,” the Unions said.
3 Deputy Vice Chancellors
They also pointed to the fact that UG now has three Deputy Vice-Chancellors as well as a post called the Director of Strategic Initiatives, although there has been no equivalent expansion in the number of campuses or even in the student body.
According to them, in 2013 the University only had one Deputy Vice-Chancellor (DVC) and no Director of Strategic Initiatives.
As pointed out by the Unions, each DVC, as well as strategic initiatives has a unit with “ever-increasing staff”– so there are costs for each unit as well as for the person in charge of the unit and his/her salary and benefits. The workers said they would like to know whether any analysis has ever been done of the costs of each unit balanced against the benefits they bring to the University.
As such, the staffers attached to the University are calling on its Council to exercise proper financial oversight. The workers said they wish to have a forensic audit done to help answer the questions outlined, especially since information gained by a forensic audit would enable all parties to have an objective and factual way forward in dealing with the many matters related to the University’s finances
A group of employees attached to the University Turkeyen Campus on Tuesday picketed the Vice-Chancellery, calling for audits into the spending of the University as it is allegedly unable to properly account for its expenditures and more so, offer a salary increase to its staffers although tuition fees have been increasing annually.