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Thursday, August 30, 2007

Education Minister assures SIG students at USP Laucala of final allowance payments in two weeks

By Moffat Mamu

The Solomon Islands national government will be paying the remaining balance of allowance for government sponsored students at the University of South Pacific in a fortnight.

Minister of Education Dr Derek Sikua made this assurance this week when speaking at the sine die motion.

Continuing students at USP last week questioned why the government only made part payments to them while new students received their full payment.

Dr Sikua said he was aware of the situation.
“I want to assure them that they will be receiving the remaining balance of their allowances in the next fortnight or so,” Dr Sikua said.

Government sponsored students at USP have only received their allowance last week - three weeks after classes at the university started.

Dr Sikua said the delay in payment was due to administrative hiccups rather than economic reasons.
“It has nothing to do with the government’s ability in paying these allowances,” Dr Sikua said.

“The delay at the beginning of this year was caused by the late passage of this year’s budget by parliament. Also you will recall that at the beginning of this year, the USP no longer pays students’ allowances in advance as was the practise in the past. This is due to the prevailing situation in Fiji which, according to the USP administration, has created uncertainty in the university’s finances as Fiji being the host nation is a major contributor to the university,” he said.

He said National Training Unit (NTU) within the Ministry of Education has to raise payments for students’ allowances in a timely manner on semester one and semester two this year.

“As there are multiple players in this process and not just the Ministry of Education or the Ministry of Finance, long delays have been experienced,” the minister said.

“I know for a fact that my officials started the process of payment of USP Student allowances at the beginning of June this year. We were hoping at that time the required funds could be ready by the end of June so that we could pay the students their living, accommodation and book allowances as soon as semester two this year begins about three weeks ago,” he said.

However, this was not so. The delay in payment had left many students without books, school stationaries and even money to meet bills. Today all that is now settled.

Source: Solomon Star

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