Published on July 2nd, 2012 | by Desiree' Attard0
Leasing of Students’ House in breach of regulations; Auditor General reports
This evening University students have been given an official response with regards to the Students’ House issue, initiated last December by Member of Parliament Dr. Owen Bonnici’s parliamentary question concerning the legitimacy of KSU in managing and leasing parts of Students’ House.
Dr. Bonnici had called for the public accounts committee to investigate the running of Students’ House by KSU, in particular as to whether any rules were broken in granting KSU administration of Students’ House, which is government property. Seven months later, the Auditor General has issued his report with regards to Dr. Bonnici’s call, which KSU had defined as ”an unnecessary attack on the autonomy and integrity of not just KSU, but also the numerous student organisations which are housed in Students’ House.”
This evening’s report to parliament by the Auditor General assured that KSU were never granted title by the University over the said House, hence parts of the building could not be leased by the said Council, despite claims by the students’ council that in 1994 they had been handed the administration of Students’ House.
Reporting to Parliament, the Auditor explained that not regulating the situation was a failing of the University Council, and that the leasing of parts of the House by students’ council was not conducive to the said council’s accountability. The Auditor therefore emphasized the need for the University and KSU to sort the issue out together as soon as possible.
Whilst the leasing of Students’ House is paramount to the financial independence of KSU, Dr. Bonnici pointed out that the actual terms of leasing parts of the House were entirely in the hands of KSU, possibly going against the Disposal of Government Land Act. The said Act in fact calls for competent authorities to monitor the renting of ‘immovable assets’, to ensure transparency in financial transactions.
It remains to be seen how KSU and the University Council will make amends to the situation, as well as how businesses operating in Students’ House will react to the situation.
Updated - Dr. Owen Bonnici’s comments and a PULSE Press Release:
‘Today’s report by the Auditor General rang loud and clear – the procedures regarding the handing of leases within Students’ House are far from transparent; they are arbitrary and ultra vires.
I am convinced that this event will give positive results; as from today I am sure that both University and KSU shall work on this report in order to introduce serious methods of how to safeguard national interest whilst protecting KSU’s financial income. In addition, I hope that they will also reflect on how organisations within University can be given more space to operate on Campus.
On a more personal note, I hope that all those who had for some reason criticised my whistleblowing back in December today realize that my actions were purely for the benefit of national interest, as I believe it is my role as a member of Parliament to scrutinize all administrative and governmental operations. Had I failed to do this I would have been defecting from the humble role which I occupy.’
PULSE added that ‘the Auditor has also proved claims by Pulse that the KSU is applying procedures which are in no way “accountable” and “transparent”. Unfortunately KSU representatives have been hiding behind the excuse of student organisations to defend their irregular state, even when organisations on campus only benefit from a small percentage of what the KSU actually earns.
Pulse hopes that the SDM-led Council respects the findings and recommendations of the Auditor General and take the necessary measures to remedy its sorry state of good governance. Arrogance can no longer prevail, therefore it is high time that the main students’ body at University truly expresses represenation and integrity.’
In the meantime, KSU has offered no reply to Insiter Online as yet.