Gov't signs on to CDB grant for UG library
Minister of Finance, Winston Jordan on Tuesday signed a Technical Assistance Grant with the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) for the infrastructural enhancement of the University of Guyana’s library. On March 1st this year, the University of Guyana (UG) and the CDB had signed a separate agreement on the initiative. A release from the Ministry of Finance yesterday said that other signatories to the agreement were President of the CDB Dr Warren Smith, and the Vice Chancellor of UG, Dr Ivelaw Griffith.
The US$149,985 ($31.4m) grant was approved by the Board of Directors of the CDB at its Annual meeting held in March this year. It will finance a comprehensive assessment of, and prepare final designs and scost estimates for the construction of a modern, “gender-responsive, socially-inclusive and environmentally resilient facility”. This grant will also help to tackle the adequacy and suitability of the current infrastructure. The new library will be sited on a plot of land west of the current library. The Government of Guyana and UG will contribute approximately US$26,000 towards the full realization of the project. Over the years, the release noted that UG has had difficulty accessing funds to maintain the present library, its other buildings and to build newer buildings to accommodate its growing student population. Despite this, the release said that UG has made incremental changes to the library including the removal and disposal of asbestos from certain areas in 2009; the building of a fire escape in 2010; the renovation of the roof of the new wing of the library and the grilling of windows in the general reading room in 2012; the rewiring of the library in 2015 and the physical upgrade of the learning resource centre in 2017. However, the release said that the library still suffers from infrastructural challenges and weaknesses in staff capacity.
The infrastructural enhancement project which will start immediately will be executed by UG through the Office of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Planning and International Engagement. A Project Steering Committee will have responsibility for the coordination and overall guidance of the project. In March, when the UG/CDB agreement was clinched, UG Librarian, Gwyneth George said the new building will have a layout which caters for both collaborative and independent spaces She explained that in designing the building UG will focus on incorporating technology in such a way that both a space for learning and creating will be realized.
UG to get new, modern library
The University of Guyana is slated to get a new, modern library, with funding from the Caribbean Development Bank (CBD), the Government and the University finalized technical aspects of the project. In a statement Wednesday, the Ministry of Finance said the library will be a “gender-responsive, socially-inclusive and environmentally resilient facility.” The Ministry said the CDB had approved US$149,985.00 in grant funding for the project, while the Government and the University will contribute approximately US$26, 000. The funding will go towards the preparation of final designs and cost estimates. The new library will be situated on a plot of land west of the current library.
The agreement for the project was signed on Tuesday by Minister of Finance Winston Jordan, President of the CDB Dr. Warren Smith and the Vice Chancellor of the University Dr. Ivelaw Griffith. The Ministry of Finance noted that over the years, UG has had difficulty accessing funds to maintain the present library, its other buildings or to construct newer buildings to cope with its ballooning student population.
Despite this, the Ministry stated that the University had made incremental changes to the library including the removal and disposal of asbestos from certain areas and the rewiring of the building. But these improvements still left the library with other infrastructural challenges. “The infrastructural enhancement project which will begin immediately will be implemented by UG through the Office of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Planning and International Engagement. “A Project Steering Committee (PSC) will have responsibility for the coordination and overall guidance of the project,” the Ministry stated.
Minister Jordan, Dr. Griffith and other senior functionaries of the Ministry of Finance are currently attending the 48th Board of Governors meeting in Grenada. The Ministry noted that the partnership between Guyana and the CDB most recently resulted in an agreement by the Bank to lend its resources with that of the United Kingdom/Caribbean Infrastructure Fund (UKCIF) to fund the waterfront renewal in Georgetown; upgrade the first phase of the Linden to Lethem Highway; and construct a bridge across the Essequibo River at Kurupukari.
The Ministry said too that the CDB has also committed an estimated US$6.145 M to the 9th Cycle of the Basic Needs Trust Fund, which will be expended on projects and activities that contribute to inclusive and sustainable economic growth, reduce poverty in poor and rural communities, improve access to critically-needed services.
Article adapted from: https://newsroom.gy/2018/05/30/ug-to-get-new-modern-library/
Few UG student loan borrowers repaying under Jubilee offer
A less than satisfactory number of University of Guyana (UG) students and former students have taken advantage of the Independence Jubilee reduced tuition fee repayments, resulting in the Guyana government being still saddled with a huge number of outstanding student loans, Finance Minister Winston Jordan said Monday.
Addressing the launch of the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph’s (GT&T) Mobile Money Guyana (MMG) system that will allow the repayment of student loans by cellular phones, Finance Minister Winston Jordan said of the nearly GYD$10 billion worth of 28,936 loans issued so far since 1994, 20,301 are delinquent.
Jordan said despite the “substantial rebates” offered to graduates in Guyana and overseas last year as part of Guyana’s 50th Independence anniversary celebration, few did not take advantage of the opportunity to clear, update their debts.
“I don’t think there has been a significant dent to what I gave at the last time….There was some exuberance at the offer but it didn’t get the kind of response that we were hoping for where a significant dent would have been made. We did get some money in but it’s not significant to what is owing,” he said.
Before signing the MMG agreement, GT&T’s Chief Executive Officer Justin Nedd said all current and past students have to do to repay their tuition loans is to enter their UG registration number, the amount they would like to pay and press send.
The Finance Minister welcomed the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph’s extension of the “fast and secure” Mobile Money Guyana system to offer past and continuing students a new option to repay their loans. Jordan announced that, “very soon borrowers from abroad will be able to make payments online as we are in talks with GT&T and Western Union.
The Finance Minister warned that if the loans are not repaid and the student loan system does not revolve, government would have to examine “other methods which unfortunately will not be to the benefit of those said people who want to come to university.”
Figures dating back to last year show that since the inception of the Student Loan Agency in 1994, at least GYD$9.5 billion were made available to the revolving agency to facilitate the payment of tuition fees. Up to May, 2016 figures show that 26,239 loans had been issued but repayment up the same period had amounted to GYD$1.75 billion, with installments due amounting to GYD$5.7 billion.
The Jubilee offer had entailed a 75 percent reduction in the accumulated arrears of interest if borrowers had paid their indebtedness no later than August 31, 2016 or a 50 percent reduction in accumulated arrears of interest if borrowers had brought their accounts up to date by September 30, 2016.
At the Ministry of Finance’s Student Loan Office, Jordan said there are a new director, new administrative manager and more loan officers. Other plans include the appointment of more loan officers, a lawyer and an accountant as well as the introduction of a new computerized system “to replace the ancient technology currently in place.” The Finance Minister added that the “massive reforms” to ensure that funding is available to future borrowers include the refinement of the criteria for qualification and guaranteeing of loans.
“The recalcitrance and disinterest that is inherent in the unacceptably large delinquent portfolio must be halted. Students, graduates and guarantors have to work together to reverse this situation. The government has shown its willingness to be engaged and has already provided the first steps,” said Jordan.
- The University of Guyana