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Edna Manley College spends $4m on supper and taxi fare in finance dept in 2017-18

Published:Friday | July 5, 2019 | 12:19 AMErica Virtue/Senior Gleaner Writer
DeGrasse Johnson
DeGrasse Johnson

The Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts was on Wednesday asked to explain how the institution spent $4 million on “supper” and “taxi fare” in one financial year, giving an average of $364,000 to each of the 11 staffers working in the finance department at the time.

Representatives of the college were again at the sitting of the Public Administration and Appropriations Committee (PAAC) of Parliament amid reports of sexual harassment at the institution, which have led to the establishment of a personnel committee to hear the matter involving a lecturer at the institution.

Committee member Leslie Campbell asked principal Nicholeen DeGrasse Johnson to explain how the institution spent nearly $4 million on supper for the financial year 2017-18 and to explain why its audited financial reports for three years were incomplete. The college is currently running a $45-million deficit annually, said Campbell.

Responding, DeGrasse Johnson said, “Overtime, sir, for the persons who were there. Because we are short-staffed, some staff had to work overtime.”

Eleven members of staff are currently in the finance department.

Still Campbell pressed on the supper bill.

“Supper and taxi, sir,” she said.

It was unclear how the $4 million was spread. With the funds equally distributed, each member of staff would have received an additional $364,000 per year, an average of $30,000 extra per month.

DeGrasse Johnson said that there was an issue finding competent accounting staff and personnel to fill 12 positions in the finance department. Many of these positions were not filled until March this year, she added. Low-salary issues and the processes involved in hiring were blamed for the delay.