With an audit into spending practices at the University of Guyana (UG) drawing closer, Vice-Chancellor Ivelaw Griffith has emerged to hit back at claims that his administration has been engaged in exuberant spending.
In fact, Griffith is alleging that with his contract at UG almost up, unions who have pushed for the audit have also ramped up their campaign to force him out. But the Vice-Chancellor has no plans of going anywhere, as he noted on Tuesday that he is interested in extending his time overseeing UG.
“Take the story entitled ‘No toilet paper and soap for staff but UG spent over $400,000 to cater dinner for eight published on April 22, 2019. Not only is it patently inaccurate to assert that there is no toilet paper and soap at UG, but the claim that $400,000 was spent on a dinner for eight individuals is patently false! I say this without fear of contradiction,” Griffith stated.
“The same concerns relate to another recent story ‘UG executives tripled their salaries in five years… why not await the results of the audit? Incidentally, the unions were told the reasons why a forensic audit being demanded was not possible; there is no evidence of fraud. Why not wait for the results of the audit?”
Griffith claimed that increases in spending went towards a number of infrastructural works such as a new parking lot, the refurbishment of the Cheddi Jagan Lecture Hall at a cost of $16 million and a student social complex at a cost of $56 million.
“We also made significant improvements in the library at Turkeyen and in Berbice, built a brand new building for facilities maintenance, and will see the completion of the new math and science classroom building soon,” Griffith also said.
Meanwhile, in an invited comment, a UG student confirmed that basic items like toilet paper and soap are indeed largely absent from the University campus’ washroom facilities. This situation, he noted, is not only felt by staff but by the students also.
After months of concerns being expressed about spending and wastage, it was recently revealed that the Education Ministry had requested the Office of the Auditor General to conduct a special audit of the University of Guyana’s finances.
In February, a group of employees attached to the University of Guyana’s Turkeyen Campus had 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.
UG’s administration was accused of wanton spending including hosting several events and standing the expenses of meals and accommodation for guest speakers as well as hiring select individuals and paying them super salaries, and sending large delegations overseas, all on the University’s bill. Professor Griffith has consistently denied those claims.