Officials of the University of the West Indies, UWI, today refused to appear before a committee of Parliament to account for how it’s spending billions of dollars provided by Jamaican taxpayers annually.
In a letter to the Public Administration and Appropriations Committee, PAAC, the UWI said it’s not accountable to the Jamaican Parliament.
The response of the UWI this morning stunned members of the PAAC. In its letter, the university points out that it’s a regional autonomous body.
Chairman of the PAAC, Dr. Wykeham McNeill, was shocked as he read the letter.
The letter from UWI, points out that it’s governed by a 1962 Royal Charter which makes the institution only legally answerable to the British monarchy, identified as the visitor, or its representatives.
Jamaica contributes 20-percent of the University’s annual budget.
For the fiscal year 2016/2017, the Jamaican government has so far contributed over $5-billion to the institution.
In its letter, the UWI admits that as a contributing country, Jamaica is entitled to know how its subvention is spent.
However, it says this must be done through Jamaica’s representative on UWI’s Finance and General purpose Committee.
To emphasize its point, the university withdrew a report it tabled in Parliament last month regarding its finances.
Dr. McNeill was not amused.
He says in light of Jamaica’s contribution, the UWI must be brought before Parliament.
He was joined by South Trelawny MP, Marisa Dalrymple-Philibert.
Dr. McNeill says he’ll be calling on the Attorney General, Marlene Malahoo-Forte, for guidance on the matter.
Meanwhile, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Dr. Maurice Smith, is supporting the call by the PAAC, that the UWI Mona Campus should be brought before the Committee.
Dr. Smith also says the UWI’s structure limits the Ministry’s ability to properly probe it.
Dr. Maurice Smith was speaking at yesterday’s sitting of the Public Administration and Appropriations Committee.
The University of Technology and the University Council of Jamaica appeared before the committee this morning.