Anna-Lisa Paul and Bobie-Lee Dixon
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Govt tells UWI as its operating cost crosses $1b: Find ways to raise funds
The University of the West Indies (UWI) St Augustine campus has been told to find ways to raise funds to assist with its operating cost which has crossed the billion-dollar mark.
The university was required to submit a comprehensive strategy/plan by April 30 to raise money, based on recommendations by the Finance and General Purposes Committee (FGPC) and the Ministry of Tertiary Education and Skills Training (Test). The request was based on a Cabinet minute of March 13. Both the FGPC and Test made the recommendation, Minister Fazal Karim said.
The plan, according to Karim, is to reduce “the annual percentage of government’s contribution to the annual budget of the campus from the period 2014 to 2017.” At a forum entitled Coffee with the Principal, held at the Learning Resource Centre, St Augustine, on Friday, UWI’s principal Prof Clement Sankat in an address to staff members, whom he praised for their team effort and commitment, said the university needed to find ways to increase its income.
In a slide presentation to scores of workers, Sankat showed 12 areas the university could tap into to generate funds. Sankat asked staff, “How many of you know that this campus’ budget is...more than $1 billion? “That is what it takes to run this place. It crossed the billion-dollar mark, and they now telling the principal, how you going to find your own money? “That is the challenge we have. How we going to raise we own money?” Sankat said 73 per cent of UWI’s budget was spent on wages and salaries for its 3,000 staff members.
“Which tells you how tight this budget is...how very tight, and how very close we have to manage it.” The remaining 27 per cent, Sankat said, pays for “everything else.” He said while the national budget was $61 billion, theirs was $1 billion. They now have to find ways to reduce that figure, Sankat said. Sankat said much of what they received came from the Government, for which they were grateful. “Now, fees really are our income. But the fees are paid by the Government. So guess what? We have to wait.”
Sankat said this created difficulties for the university. He said another problem was their receivables; they had more money outside than in their coffers. Sankat noted the university has not received money for new employees in the last four years. Sankat urged the employees to act with a sense of urgency and work to exceed the university’s expectations.
MORE GOVT $$ IN 2014-2015
Karim said his ministry and the FGPC estimated that government’s contribution to UWI for 2014-2015 would be $550,695,558, inclusive of contributions to long-term loans of $11,165,000, which was approximately 7.7 per cent more than its contribution in the 2013-2014 budget. According to the Cabinet minute of March 2014, Karim said, the total campus expenditure would be $669,695,558.
The recommendations were made on the basis of a report of the technical advisory committee to the Campus Grants Committee of UWI, on the biennium estimates for 2014-2015 and 2015-2016, in St Kitts and Nevis in February, Karim said.