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Australia and New Zealand have reaffirmed the payment of grants to the University of the South Pacific (USP).
USP Vice-Chancellor Professor Pal Ahluwalia said the Australian government had stopped payment of grants to USP since his suspension earlier in the year.
However, Professor Ahluwalia stresses that after meeting with their Australian partners Australia has committed to releasing payment of $7million(US$3.2 million).
He said New Zealand has also reassured the University that it is fully committed to paying its grants to the institution and has even highlighted a possible increase.
“After my suspension, Australia wanted some guarantees, we’ve met all those triggers that they wanted and they met with us last week in our regular partnership meeting, they have assured us that they will release $7m, $3.5m(US$1.6 million) that’s outstanding from them will be released in October. The uplift from New Zealand will be $1.5m(US$700,000) is what they told us.”
Following the seizure of grants from the Fijian government, Professor Ahluwalia stresses that the University is managing the situation on the payment of grants carefully on a daily basis.
Executive Director Finance Kolinio Boila said all other member countries are fully committed to financially supporting USP for this year at least.
However, Boila said the impact of the grant that has ceased from the Fijian government has not yet been felt by the University.
“The impact from the Fijian government is basically, currently absorbed so we have not yet moved into a position where we cut wages or salaries that is for down the line if the situation worsens. But for the time being, we have absorbed that from our current contingencies.”
For this financial year, $27.7 million(US$12.9 million) has been allocated to USP, as part of the Fijian Government’s contribution, which will be disbursed once a grant agreement is signed and upon resolution of the matters which have been highlighted in a letter sent to the Vice-Chancellor and Pro-Chancellor earlier this month.
From January to date the government has disbursed $21.8 million (US$10.1 million).
SOURCE: FBC NEWS/PACNEWS
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