By LR Liburd
The St. Kitts-Nevis Observer
Former President of the Clarence Fitzroy Bryant College (CFBC), Dr. Kelvin Daly is refuting statements made by Federal Minister of Education and Deputy Prime Minister the Hon. Shawn Richards, who said that under Daly’s watch the books at the learning institution were in disarray with hundreds of thousands of dollars gone missing as well as large unpaid bills.
Richards made these allegations, among others, during a town hall meeting held by the Team Unity Government at the Newtown Community Centre on Monday (July 25).
Responding to the allegation made by Dr. Daly and members of the Opposition that he had fired the educator as President of CFBC, Minister Richards said it was not his decision but that of the Board of Directors at CFBC.
He explained that Dr. Daly had a contract which would expire in August of 2016 and that he had accrued leave which he was advised to take.
“Dr. Daly didn’t take a vacation and the Board took a decision to ask him to take vacation, because CFBC has serious financial problems and if he doesn’t take the vacation it means that CFBC will have to pay him for his vacation.”
The Education Minister also explained that employees at the College knew that when the three percent increase was given to government they had to wait months to get it, “because of the financial issues affecting CFBC. So the Board told him to take his vacation”
He stated that Dr. Daly’s vacation ended on Tuesday (July 19) and on his return to work the Board said: “Look, we are not going to renew your contract and so we think it is best for you to exit CFBC at this point and time.”
Minister Richards emphasised that instead of Dr. Daly saying he was victimised, he give the full facts to the public and let the people determine why the Board refused to renew his contract.
Reading from what he claimed to be an audit report on the College for the years 2012, 2013 and 2014, Richards said: “Dr. Daly must tell persons that in 2014, the first full year that he was at CFBC, you had eight hundred and something thousand dollars collected and only five hundred and something thousand dollars ended up in the bank account for CFBC. That was under his watch as President of CFBC.
“And the report speaks to it right here! Total…$819,276.11 collected at CFBC in the year 2014. Actual bank deposits…$395,840.54. Amount unaccounted for…$423,435.47. And so the Board took a decision not to renew his contract. Why he wants to blame me and why he wants to blame the Board?
“But that ain’t the only thing! Ask Dr. Daly under his watch how much money is owed to Social Security. Ask him about the hundreds of thousands of dollars owed to Social Security taken out of teachers’ money and the money ain’t reach to Social Security up until now, because of the fact that there is serious financial issues up at CFBC. All that happened under his watch as President of CFBC. Ask him about the monies owed to CXC by CFBC. Ask him about the hundreds of thousands of dollars owed to the Electricity Department by CFBC. Sometimes when you hear them talking you got to take it with a grain of salt.”
The Deputy Prime Minister reiterated that he had no input in the Board’s decision to fire Dr. Daly and that no one could accuse him of victimisation.
“I hear the man doing an interview saying that this Minister victimised him because he is NRP. I have worked with Labour people; I have worked with PAM people, CCM, NRP people and nobody could accuse me of victimisation. Plus I am not the Board for CFBC. I cannot make the determination as to whether or not Dr. Daly stays or he goes. That is not my decision to make! I allow the Board to function and this is a decision the Board has made.”
In an interview with Dr. Daly on Tuesday (July 26), the former CFBC President refuted all the statements and allegations that the Minister of Education made. He also told The Observer that he had expected his dismissal letter because of politics.
“I knew this was coming because of the change in government and I figured that my days were numbered. Because I appeared onstage with Dr. Douglas in 2014 at a town hall meeting at Jessup’s Community Centre, speaking only about the role of CFBC in developing the young minds. All I did was present CFBC’s vision. When I returned to the campus on the following Monday, one of my senior staff said to me: ‘You better pray that Labour wins the election because these guys see you as being partisan and they are going to come after you for appearing on the stage with Prime Minister Douglas.’ That is exactly what happened and the Minister is now crying foul and saying it was not political. It is all political!”
Addressing the issue of monies owing to Social Security, the St. Kitts Electricity Company Limited and the Caribbean Examination Council, Dr. Daly said Minister Richards failed to inform the public that those debts were incurred before his tenure at CFBC.
“The Minister said that the College was in arrears to CXC, SKELEC and Social Security, but what he neglected to tell the public is that those situations predated my entry into CFBC. The genesis of those issues started before my tenure began at CFBC.
“The second point which he neglected to say, which I had repeated time and time again, is that there are persons employed by CFBC with oversight for those matters. I can only act on those matters and bring them before the Board or any other body if I am being made aware of them.”
He stressed that if he was told of them and did nothing, “I could understand the position of the Minister. But when I got wind of any deficit, the first thing I instructed was that we needed to negotiate with the persons we owe, not only the big ones but the small vendors as well, a payment schedule to get these things rectified. That is what was done to bring up to speed any arrear situation we might have had”, adding that when he left the College they had pretty much erased the debt to Social Security.
The educator offered an explanation to what he meant by delegation of authority.
“In relation to what I said earlier about persons being responsible, HR are the ones who pay salaries, I don’t pay salaries. If HR is getting subvention to pay salaries and Social Security and there are insufficient funds to both, then, of course, the President’s Office should have been notified. But that never occurred.”
Dr. Daly claimed that in addition to learning of the arrears to Social Security from staff at the learning institution but not seeing letters of appraisal coming from that body, “I saw Mr. Bailey and he told me that he has been sending letters to CFBC concerning arrears and I told him to send the correspondence directly to me and I will deal with it. I subsequently saw him sometime after and he informed me that he was getting the payments. But these were huge arrears and so it would take some time to payout because our subvention is very weak”.
He pointed out that his tenure as President of CFBC began in August 2013 and he was there for less than a year when all of those issues started coming to light.
“But what did we do when we learned of these problems?” Dr. Daly asked, and in answering that question, he said: “We negotiated with SKELEC to have instalment plans; we negotiated with CXC to bring up the past arrears and make sure whatever money was currently collected went all to CXC. What should have occurred in the case of CXC is that a directed account should have been put in place for all funds collected for CXC to go directly into that account rather than to the consolidated fund here at CFBC. That never occurred, so they could not separate which fund belongs to whom.”
He claimed that staffing was a problem and only one individual had the responsibility for the collection and disbursement of monies for the College.
“There was an understaffing situation at the College when it came to financial separation duties, where there was one person, and one person only, who was responsible for collecting and paying out. You cannot have that! I remember the person who was in charge of that was crying out for help to get assistance in the office in order to get these policies done.”
Dr. Daly however noted that that was later rectified.
“Eventually, we got a VP for Finance and that was when reconciliation and cash statements started making sense, because we then had the manpower in getting it done. So those issues about arrears, there is no smoking gun there. We recognised the issues, we were solving the issues and we moved on from those issues.”
Speaking to the Education Minister’s allegation of missing monies, Dr. Daly stressed that the request for an audit was made by his office.
“With the missing cash issue, that was the most problematic one. When I came into the College in 2013 there was no VP for Finance and the one person who was there had to do years of reconciliation. If you have access to inter-office memos and other forms of written communication, you will see that it was my signature that invited the audit by the Government Audit Department. And this was done not because we suspected something was wrong, but we were preparing ourselves for accreditation and those things must be in place. You must have audited account so that when the accreditation auditors would have come they can review that we are transparent and that we had governance structures in place and we knew what we were doing with policies, et cetera.
“At the same time, our new VP for Finance also started doing reconciliation and she picked up a trend with deposits where the cashier who was responsible for the deposits was writing out deposit slips and entering data onto the system. So we were looking at numbers believing that money was indeed going into the bank account. But it is only when one does reconciliation and gets back statements from the bank, it is only then one will know what transpired because having a deposit book doesn’t prove anything.”
He claimed that on completion of the VP’s reconciliation and that of the audit, both of them concluded that deposit slips were being made up but the monies were not deposited in CFBC’s account in the amount that they should have been.
Dr. Daly said he did not have the manpower to investigate everything, knowing that there are five divisions at the college with over 1,400 students at any given time.
He also said that when the issues came to light they were reported immediately to the Board of Directors, but “the underlying tenor here is that the new Minister and the new Board came in with a set of assumptions that people were abusing the system, they were being paid too much, allowances were given when not warranted and all sorts of things were being said. So they came in with a position already formulated that there is some untoward and it had to be something bad”.
In relation to Minister Richards’ inference that CFBC is cash strapped, the former President implied that much could have been saved if monies were not being paid to provide flight and boarding arrangements for the Chairman of the Board who resides in St. Thomas.
He also pointed to the amount of money that has to be disbursed on a monthly basis for Board meetings that is taken from students’ fees.
“Members of the Board are in receipt of fees for Board meetings and this Board has been split into a number of committees for which they receive another payment, which is equal to that of the original Board fee. So if they have two meetings per month, in terms of the Board’s Chairman, that will be $4,000 whether h is here or not. The Vice Chair gets $1,500 plus another $1,500 as head of the Auditing Compliance Committee while all other members including myself would have gotten $1,000 twice a month. These Board fees are not paid from our subvention from the Government, these fees are paid from students’ fees.”
Dr. Daly: Said Richard’s inferences about missing monies were ludicrous, noting that it was his office that had ordered the audit which proved what he had long been saying to the Board that there was no proper accounting system at the learning institution.
“The audit request came from my office with my signature. We requested the audit and not because we suspected anything was wrong, but we were preparing ourselves for accreditation and those kinds of documentation must be on file. It was the first audit ever conducted by the College.
Asked in what position has the allegations left him, Dr. Daly said it has created a gloom in professional his life.
“I am in a very difficult position because when the Minister gets up and broadcast to the world, in public forum, all of these matters have created a dark cloud over my head. Where am I to go professionally now in the region that has been informed of this matter? Where am I to go? He did his best to destroy my life.”