NEWS

A-G To USP Staff Union: Stop Lies

Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum has hit out at the Association of the University of the South Pacific Staff saying it’s misleading to say that the Government’s grant was withheld for economic reasons
14 Apr 2021 11:45
A-G To USP Staff Union: Stop Lies
Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum. Photo: Ronald Kumar

Stop peddling misinformation.

This was Attorney-General and Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum’s message to the Association of the University of the South Pacific Staff (AUSPS).

The union, in an email to all its members last month had said, the Fijian Government’s position on withholding grant to USP was not clear and that money was withheld due to the struggles from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said it’s unfortunate that a number of actors at USP continue to peddle misinformation.

“The reality of the matter is that it is incorrect and completely misleading to say that the grant at USP was withheld because of economic reasons. We had a budget which was based on the prevailing economic conditions and within that framework we had allocated funding for the USP grant,” he said.

“However, as has been stated, right from the beginning the Fijian Government’s position was that the grant funding would be withheld subject to the anomalies that had been identified by the (USP Council’s) Chair of the Audit and Risk Committee and the Pro-Chancellor that they needed to be addressed in an independent manner because the Fijian Government is the largest contributor to USP and is concerned about the governance issues and lack of adherence to various procedures and processes.”

He said funding will be disbursed once investigations are complete and the issues are addressed.

Furthermore, he said as the largest contributor to USP, Fijian students across universities have had their tuitions paid through either the National Toppers Scholarship or Tertiary Education Loans Scheme which contributed towards the universities funding.

The email claimed that the “non-receipt of the phased $27 million Fiji payment, though the Government has stated otherwise, is very likely the result of an economy that is in severe difficulty.”

In the email, the union tried to pass on the deficit of $11m which USP is currently facing to the Fijian Government.

It stated: “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 Government position is known. Without this grant, forecast deficit is $11m.”

Edited by Ranoba Baoa

Feedback: shalveen.chand@fijisun.com.fj



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