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UG Bursar, Chief Accountant sent on leave ahead of special audit

John-Seeram
UG Bursar John Seeram

The Bursar and the Chief Accountant of the University of Guyana (UG) have been sent on leave with immediate effect to facilitate a special audit of the books, multiple sources confirmed on Sunday.

Officials emphasised that neither Bursar, John Seeram nor Chief Accountant, Hazel Bentinck have been suspected of any improprieties. There are four signatories to UG’s bank account. However, the Council was dissatisfied about inconsistent information that has been provided about the finances of the publicly-funded tertiary institution.

The Pro Chancellor, Dr. Prem Misir explained to Demerara Waves Online News (www.demwaves.com) said the Council decided to have a special audit done in view of a huge deficit and the need to cut back costs and identify priorities. “What we want is to get a really objective and fair audit assessment,” he said.

Misir denied that Seeram and Bentinck have been instructed to hand over the keys and all relevant documents in their possession to him. They have been advised not to leave Guyana because they could be needed to furnish explanations to the auditors.

Vice Chancellor, Professor Jacob Opadeyi, according to the sources, is expected to liaise with top officials of the University of the West Indies (UWI) to hire an audit team to conduct the special audit.

The audit could take at least three months after which the Council would decide its next steps.

Authoritative sources said Seeram has given various explanations about the state of UG’s finances including one that the liabilities amount to an estimated GUY$250 million. The Vice Chancellor recently announced that tuition fees would have to be increased or government would have to pump more money into UG to ensure that the institution provides a higher quality of accredited education.

The Ministry of Education’s representative on the Council and the Permanent Secretary of that ministry are to identify interim replacements for the Bursar and the Chief Accountant.

Seeram’s contract was only last year extended for another three years.

Meanwhile, the Council appointed former Assistant Director of UG’s Tain Campus, Philip Da Silva as the institution’s Deputy Vice Chancellor.