President of the University of Belize, Professor Clement Sankat has been out of the country for more than a year and yet a four thousand dollars rent allowance is being paid by the Board of Trustees on his behalf as agreed in his contract. Sankat signed a five-year contract, earning him two hundred and fifty thousand dollars per annum. This is upsetting for the faculty and staff who were forced to take a ten percent salary cut last year or faced being made redundant. The ten percent salary cut was proposed on the basis that the university is in financial exigency and that saving one point five million dollars was with a modest surplus of a little over two hundred and sixty thousand dollars was necessary. However, a memo from an accredited accountant who reviewed the university’s finances revealed that the salary cut was not necessary. In fact, the memo revealed that the University’s projections were way off as the actual surplus realized at December 2020 was two point four million. Education Minister Francis Fonseca says he is aware of the matter and that the UB Faculty and Staff Union has written to the Board of Trustees.
Hon. Francis Fonseca, Minister of Education: “ I have discussed the matter with the chairman of the board Mr. Anthony Sylvester so the board is looking into the matter I know the board has received a letter from the faculty and staff union I’ve seen the letter I’ve seen the memo that you talked about from the accountant so that matter is being table for discussion at the board meeting that is coming up shortly and I know that the recommendations outlined in the letter are going to be addressed by the board. I share their concerns as you rightly pointed out the president has not been in country for over a year and as you point out it’s a contract that is very difficult to justify. So we’re looking at all of that the board is looking at it and they have a responsibility to engage with the board to ensure that our national university is protected that our faculty and staff and the national university get answers to the concerns that they have raised.”
Reporter: Will he be ordered to return to the country because how can be managing our national university from another country for more than a year?
Hon. Francis Fonseca, Minister of Education: “Well the chairman of the board assures me that he has spoken to the president and has inquired of him on more than one occasion as to his intentions as it relates to return into the country so no satisfactory response has been given so the board will have to address that matter. As you said we we don’t interfere with the board but we have our duty and obligation to oversee the national university.”