NATION

USP $11m Deficit: Staff Union Rep

Surprisingly, the email stated that Fiji’s decision to hold back the grant was due to the struggles from the COVID-19 pandemic. This however is incorrect.
31 Mar 2021 11:00
USP $11m Deficit: Staff Union Rep

The University of the South Pacific (USP) will face a deficit of $11million without the grant from the Fijian Government, a USP Union representative has informed all union members.

Rosalia Fatiaki, who is an executive at the Association of the University of the South Pacific Staff (AUSPS), in an email to all members also claimed that Fiji’s position regarding the grant was not clear.

Govt position

However, the Fijian Government has made its position very clear on numerous occasions, including in Parliament.

Government has said that the grant would be released after an independent investigation was complete on the allegations highlighted by the Chairperson of USP’s Audit and Risk Committee, Mahmood Khan.

Fiji Sun had earlier reported that the USP staff union had called for members to vote on an agreement that it was willing to reach with USP which included no pay increase for USP staff.

When union members refused to agree to the resolution put forth by the union, an email from the executive committee to them provided further clarification.

Surprisingly, the email stated that Fiji’s decision to hold back the grant was due to the struggles from the COVID-19 pandemic. This however is incorrect.

What the email said:

“The struggles of the regional Governments are a direct consequence of the pandemic. The loss of the tourism industry as a result of the pandemic has contributed to the financial challenges of many USP stakeholders. The non-receipt of the phased FJD$27m Fiji payment, though the Government has stated otherwise, is very likely the result of an economy that is in severe difficulty.

“USP is fortunate that student enrolments are increasing but at 8 per cent only not likely to address the shortfall of any contributions and with the insecurity of receipt of regional member contributions we remain in a state of financial uncertainty. 

“As a result of the BDO Findings and its implications, donor Governments are placing conditions of the release of funds. These conditions take time to be met and are a further challenge. The pandemic is the major factor.

“What is the current financial position of the university? Generated $20m additional cash reserves from restrictions in 2020, this is cushioning the impact this year from the deferment of Fiji’s grant.

“Forecast for the rest of year? Uncertain for 2021 until Fiji position is known. Without this grant, forecast deficit is $11m.”

Fiji’s position: Fiji has categorically stated that as soon as an independent investigation is held into allegations of governance issues, Fiji will resume its grant payment.

Edited by Ranoba Baoa

Feedback: fonua.talei@fijisun.com.fj



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