– administration says finances under controlIt seems the University of Guyana (UG) recorded a budget deficit last year, even as negotiations between unions at the university and the administration in regard to salary increases are headed to the governing council.This is according to UG Senior Staff Association Chairperson, Dr. Jewel Thomas, at a press conference on Friday. She noted that the state of UG’s finances is a major worry for the unions, as they are negotiating on behalf of workers for salary increases.“There is a great deal that is unknown. Suffice to say that at the end of last year we had a deficit. The issue that was unknown was exactly how large it was… So the administration said to us and others that they were trying to assess the size of the deficit, and they would have more of a sense of it by the middle of the year.“So, the middle of the year, I think, they did do additional assessments and theyUniversity Bursar and primary financial officer, Holda Poonaifound that it (deficit) was millions, and they had to take measures to begin to deal with it. “So where we are now is that we were told at the last (meeting) that measures have been successfully taken to deal with it, but we have not seen the documentation to support this assertion. So we are waiting for documentation on this matter; it is an issue where no clear statement has been received for some time,” Dr Thomas explained.Thomas also expressed serious concerns about how the university has been spending money. According to the union rep, lecturers are sometimes forced to go into their own pockets to buy classroom essentials in order to carry out their work.Thomas explained that the terms of resumption of work after UG workers’ 2015 strike had included the administration providing adequate resources so staff would not be put into expense. Three years later, according to Thomas, the practise continues.“Members of staff were paying to keep this university running from their own resources in spite of more money coming to the university. And you can see evidence of spending (while) staff are still paying for essentials. Staff are stillUG Senior Staff Association Chairperson, Dr. Jewel Thomaspaying for ink, paper, buying their own projectors and bringing it to use in classrooms,” Thomas detailed.“I was told yesterday by someone (that) they had to buy their own office supplies and paper clips, because they were told they can’t have. Leaking roofs can’t be fixed, they have no money. Recently, staff had to be moved in here, and had to work out of this room because of the bat and rat infestation on the old wing of this building. It was so severe that staff couldn’t work anymore,” she detailed.This newscast made contact with the University’s Bursar and primary financial officer, Holda Poonai. She noted that, far from a deficit, the university has cleared all salaries, liabilities, and has been managing its finances. She maintained that, having adjusted its expenditure, there is no shortfall of money.“I know we have paid our November salaries; we have made all our deduction payments. Remember, budget changes based on circumstances. If there is a shortfall and you don’t adjust your expenditure, you will have a shortfall. We’ve since adjusted our expenditure,” she said.