STRUGGLING PNG UNIVERSITY FAILS TO PAY STAFF

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Jan. 7) - Staff at the Papua New Guinea University of Technology went without their pay last Friday, sending alarm throughout the Taraka campus that the Lae based university may be broke.

The staff, including lecturers on study leave overseas, was also not paid their three per cent wage increase approved by the National Government and paid out to all other public servants in the previous pay week.

Senior staff, who did not want to be named informed the Post-Courier last night that some 600 staff checked their bank accounts all throughout the weekend to find that their money had not gone in.

"We were informed that our pay would go in on Friday morning and we went to the bank but came away disappointed. The explanation we get was that the university has no money in its account," a senior lecturer said when speaking on condition of anonymity.

The staff said the university was in the red and it was not able to pay its staff and settle outstanding bills, estimated at close to PGK10 million [US$3.7 million].

For instance, the university owes money for the use of electricity and PNG Power Ltd issued a 48 hour notice on the December 18, warning of a power cut to the campus if the debt was not settled.

In that notice, PNG Power demanded the immediate settlement of PGK608,859.05 [US$226,384].

Reports indicate that the university owes about PGK1 million to the catering company (National Catering Service) and thousands of kina to a law firm for legal services.

The reports indicate that staff were owed entitlements and remittance to NASFUND and the University Staff Savings and Loans Society had not gone in since February last year.

"The university is in the red by PGK6 to PGK10 million. You just have to add up all other costs that are incurred by this institution and you will know that the university is in the red.

"And it’s really red hot," a source on campus said.

The Post-Courier understands that the Vice-Chancellor Misty Baloiloi is overseas and could not be reached for comment. The acting vice-chancellor Professor Rahim Milani and the Registrar Allan Sako were also not available for comment.

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