Pal: Reduction of contributions was bound to happen

Suspended University of the South Pacific vice-chancellor Prof Pal Ahluwalia. Picture: RAMA

University of the South Pacific vice-chancellor and president Prof Pal Ahluwalia has brushed aside questions on whether they would yield to the “demands” made by the Fijian Government.

He said he understood the reduction of contributions was bound to happen because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We know that all 12 countries are going through difficult times and that’s the reality we are dealing with,” he said.

In an earlier statement, Government said this financial year it had allocated $27.7 million to USP as part of its contribution, but it would be disbursed once a grant agreement was signed and upon resolution of matters it had highlighted in a letter to the university recently.

The government statement read that from January, 2020 to date, it paid USP $21.8m, adding that it looked forward to the matters in the letter being addressed expeditiously.

On whether the university had received grant contributions from Australia and New Zealand, Prof Ahluwalia said they were managing the situation and monitoring them carefully.

“Last week we met with our Australian counterparts and they had stopped their payment but had committed to releasing $10.63 million and the invoice should have gotten out this week,” he said.

“NZ has assured us that it was fully committed to giving us our funds while the other governments are pretty much caught up.

As our executive director finance Kolinio Boila pointed out, earlier there has been a reduction in the overall grants received from countries and that has impacted us too.”

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