Pundit welcomes talks of gov’t-UWI asset swap for debt

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Antigua and Barbuda and other Caricom member states are recommitting to swapping assets to clear their debt to the University of the West Indies (UWI) and a social commentator is lauding the move.
Arvel Grant believes that the decision, which came out of a recently concluded Caricom meeting would allow the university to stay functional.
“It would allow the university to do what universities should do, which is to develop and expand their offerings to the region,” he said. “You can’t do those sort of things, which would make the university more assessable to people unless the beneficiaries are paying their bills.”
Collectively, governments in Caricom owe UWI about US $200 million. The school has repeatedly pleaded to governments to pay their debts but have made little headway in clearing the alarming debt.
While it is unclear how much of that sum should be shouldered by Antigua and Barbuda, Professor Densil Williams, who is a professor of international business and pro vice chancellor for Planning at UWI, Mona, said, “the prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda agreed to provide assets to the UWI on a free hold basis, which the institution can add to its balance-sheet and also, use as collateral to generate capital for expansion and modernisation of the plant.”
However, Grant warns that for governments to remain “current” with their obligations, there would have to be improvements in the “fiscal position” of governments in Caricom.
He said while in the 1980s many top professionals were educated in the United States or Britain, today, most senior managers are graduates of Caribbean universities.
“We cannot afford to backslide on that,” he charged.
He is urging officials to push to get the university to a place where it can offer “top quality online degrees” without individuals having to travel.

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