Former National Agricul-ture Research Institute (NARI) Finance Manager Holda Poonai is the new University of Guyana (UG) Bursar.
The revelation was made yesterday by UG’s Public Relations Officer, sources say, although Poonai has been carrying out the duties of Bursar since May 2.
Poonai is a graduate of UG. After she acquired her BSc in Accounting, she pursued and acquired certification by the Association of Charted Certified Accountants (ACCA), with which she is an affiliate member.
Before her tenure as Finance Manager at NARI she worked as an Accounts Clerk II at the Mahaica/ Mahaicony/Abary Agricul-tural Development Autho-rity (MMA/ADA), and before that she taught accounts part time for ten years.
UG’s former bursar John Seeram and former Senior Accountant Hazel Bentick were sacked last September following the findings of a special audit requested by UG Vice Chancellor Jacob Opadeyi. The audit, executed out by the University of West Indies (UWI), was deemed by Opadeyi as imperative if UG was to correct its financial deficiencies and move forward.
Sources had said that no acts of malfeasance were discovered during the audit, although auditors were said to have discovered that several weaknesses of varying nature were compromising the Bursary’s ability to effectively protect the university’s assets. Further, auditors reportedly found that this reality depreciated the reliability of the financial information produced and disseminated by the Bursary to the relevant senior staff members.
Stabroek News was told that the auditors concluded that insufficient assurance could be placed on the management and control environment under which UG’s finances were being prepared, and that the checks and balance mechanisms created to regulate the system were inadequate and ineffective. Ultimately, the university’s financial system was deemed by the auditors as inadequate, and Seeram and Bentick were sent home, reportedly on Opadeyi’s recommendation.
Observers have argued that UG’s financial problem is not policy oriented. Rather, it is argued that UG’s financial woes are perpetuated by the chronic lack of sufficient funds to cover critical expenditure. President of the UG Senior Staff Association (UGSSA) Patsy Francis had told Stabroek News that Seeram was faulted because he used funds in specific accounts to cover expenses they were not meant to cover.
What Seeram was guilty of, she charged, was acting in the best interest of UG. Since Seeram and Bentick were released from their posts, there has been no significant increase, if any, in the university’s revenue as it prepares to usher in the 2014/2015 academic year.