Upcoming audit at UG…wants to extend contractWith 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.UG Vice-Chancellor Ivelaw GriffithIn 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.The University of Guyana“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.FinancesAfter 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.The University of Guyana Senior Staff Association (UGSSA) and University of Guyana Workers Union (UGWU) have in particular levelled these accusations. The Unions had joined forces to question why monies were allocated in previous budgets to entities which do not exist and moreover, what became of those funds.They had also demanded answers from the administration on how much money was spent on non-essential events in the last two and half years, which include but are not limited to the Law and Society series, the Turkeyen-Tain talks, and the Vice-Chancellor’s installation ceremony.They had argued that while these monies were being spent, the core units of the University, which include faculties and schools, had been informed that no money is available for essential repairs and payment for stationery, among others.In his 2016 report, Auditor General Deodat Sharma had found that $209 million has been unaccounted for from the University of Guyana’s Science and Technology Support Project, funded by the Government of Guyana (GoG) and the International Development Association (IDA) under Credit Agreement No 4969-GY.However, the University had insisted that the monies were used for infrastructure projects on the campus, including a fibre optic cable to provide students with Wi-Fi. It had also noted that some of the monies were used to renovate the faculty buildings.