Reports have surfaced about serious cases of mismanagement and abuse at the University of the South Pacific (USP) involving its former vice chancellor and president, Professor Rajesh Chandra.
Documents cited by Islands Business questions cases of speedy appointments or renewal of contracts of at least eleven senior members of the university, majority of them Fiji nationals who are all working at the main university campus in Suva.
Questions are also being raised about the payments of professional and development leave, as well as the deferment to 2019 of back pay that was due to be paid to Professor Chandra in July, 2018.
The university now worries that it might be cited for tax evasions by Fiji’s tax authorities if the back pay was to be paid now.
The appointments of at least two Deans of the USP’s faculties are being questioned in the confidential report made available to Islands Business. It also included the post retirement renewal of the contract of a director of the university, his 6th post retirement renewals.
USP policies only allow for 3 one-year renewals.
Also raised is the speedy promotion of a Fiji national whose “salary moved from F$28174 to F$138700 within a period of 6 years.”
Another Fiji national’s position at the university is being questioned for being paid “responsibility allowance” amounting to F$159.534.68. The re-appointment of this executive’s contract is also under scrutiny since the former VC reportedly overruled the staff review committee’s decision not to renew the executive’s contract as he has reached the university’s retirement age.
Contacted in Suva today, Professor Chandra said he is not aware of the allegations made against him nor has anyone either at the university or at the Fiji ministry of education been in touch with him about the matter.
Islands Business got in touch with the office of Rosie Akbar, the minister for education, who asked through her personal assistant that our queries be directed to her Permanent Secretary, Alison Burchell.
Questions emailed to Burchell remained unanswered by press time.