As a former member of the University of Guyana Students’ Society, I would like to address the “borrowing” of the society’s monies by its President, which was highlighted in a report done by an online news agency on April 24.
Editor, I am not aware of the UGSS having any procedure which facilitates the ‘lending’ of the society’s monies. While “borrowing” may not be new to the society, it is usually classified as an “extra-budgetary” allocation, before which approval must be sought from the Executive Council. A majority vote in favour of the allocation is necessary for its approval. If this is not done then such a ‘lending’ is in itself illegal and does not fit the definition of ‘borrowing.’ The absence of a clearly defined set of regulations does not give anyone the right to do whatever they feel like with the monies.
The UGSS bank account has 3 signatories, normally the President, Treasurer and Secretary. These signatories sign cheques on behalf of the society, providing that permission is given by the Executive Council. Most organizations have such a hierarchal structure which prevents the signatories from signing cheques without having prior permission from the organization’s executive board. It is standard financial practice and does not need to be written explicitly. The monies do not belong to the signatories. The monies of the UGSS belong to the students of the university and at all times the operations of the organization must be able to withstand scrutiny from the student body.
It is incomprehensible how one member of the society can be given such a large fraction of the organization’s funds. Such an act would cripple the budget of the organization. Was the Executive Council aware of such spending?
The members of the UGSS (the students) need to demand that their money be accounted for and that those who mismanaged it face the full consequences of their actions. Credit must go to the whistleblower/s who leaked the information to the media. It shows that there are young people with integrity in our society, who have not fallen prey to the widespread corruption. An audit of the UGSS account should be done immediately and if necessary or possible, the administration should intervene in the issue, since it collects and processes the student dues.
(Name and address provided)