State will lose out on revenue

The University of the South Pacific entrance at Laucala Bay in Suva. Picture: RAMA

Fiji was the greatest beneficiary of funds it invested into the University of the South Pacific (USP), earning eight times more from every dollar it pumped into the institution.

USP executive director finance Kolinio Boila said other Pacific Island countries that contributed grants to the university gained a minimum of $3.40 for every dollar invested.

He said Government would be losing out on the revenue generated from its grant contributions to the USP.

He told a press conference this week that the university fell $30 million short of its targeted revenue, and only managed to collect $177.3m of the $210m target last year.

“What that means is that the key initiatives we wanted to fund we could not, so that means we had to shift our strategies because in 2019 and 2020 we had introduced restrictions but they were unsustainable,” he said.

This year Mr Boila said they were inclined to save $15m from cost-cutting measures initiatives to cushion the impact of COVID-19.

“Largely, we need this $15 million for the reorganisation of the university’s structure to be able to sustain it moving forward.

“Currently the university is basically absorbing this through other forms of savings internally but we were not able to sustain this annually going forward that’s why the reorganisation was needed.”

Meanwhile, he said presently the university had 116 staff members who were nonacademic.

“Of the 116 we will need 66 positions in the new structure so those jobs will remain at that number and there will be 47 jobs that will be floating around but will be moved to the non-academic job so everybody will still keep their jobs until they resign or retire.

“We have $5 million worth of jobs in a nonacademic function that are vacuum and are on hold at the moment because of the impact of COVID-19 but we will not be advertising jobs because we will be filling these 47 positions first and then we will advertise the rest once we finalise the budget for next year.”

Earlier he had also revealed that the Fiji Government’s decision to withdraw its grant contributions from the university would not affect its operations in the immediate future as the university currently had contingency funds.

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