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Govt prepared to write off UG’s debt

The University of Guyana’s Bursary.

Government is prepared to pay off millions of dollars owed by the University of Guyana (UG) but its Council remains divided over whether tuition fees should be increased, a top government official said Thursday.

Presidential Advisor on Governance, Gail Teixeira said Council members, who are also members of Cabinet, Minister of Education Priya Manickchand, Vice Chancellor Professor Jacob Opadeyi and other officials have briefed the cabinet on the status of an audit that is current underway.

Teixeira confirmed that government has already decided to pay off UG’s debts which Opadeyi has put at GUY$532 million. “The government’s role will be to try to assist with clearing off  some of the debts that seem to have accumulated but under certain terms and conditions,” she said.

At least GUY$482 million are owed to the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA), National Insurance Scheme (NIS), Guyana Water Incorporated (GWI) and the Guyana Power and Light (GPL). Another GUY$50 million are owed to part-time lecturers.

Teixeira said that among the factors being considered before increasing fees is the need for allocating more money to the government’s student revolving loan fund being managed by the Ministry of Finance.

The Vice Chancellor is already on record as saying that he has told government not to release additional funds to the tertiary institution until the audit is completed and the Bursary is restructured.

An audit conducted by experts of the University of the West Indies (UWI) has revealed major lapses and shortcomings in managing UG’s cash. Since then, the contracts of the Bursar and Chief Accountant have been terminated.