On the 14th April 2017, the Monash University Student Association (MUSA) held its annual general meeting and it was attended by members of the current student council as well as members from the student council in 2016, subcommittee members from different departments and students. Having taken place in Lecture Theatre 5001, the meeting’s prime objective was mainly to highlight the financial accounts of MUSA 2016 and to bring it up for discussion by the current student council and students who have any questions in regards to any spending that was made throughout the whole of last year. Kicking off at 6.30 p.m., the 2017 MUSA Treasurers begun the meeting with a general overview of every department’s proposed budget expenses and their actual expenses for MUSA 2016, ranging from the President’s budget all the way to the school representatives’ budgets. These financial statements were audited by four different auditors namely Yernie Yip, Sheryl Lim, Charmaine Yeo and Ng Kee Lin.
A few questions were raised in regards to some expenditures that were made by the different departments where one of it involved the spending of approximately RM4,591.01 for the MUSA Appreciation Dinner that was only budgeted at RM 1,320.00 initially under the President’s budget. Shahandyka Ozal, the 2016 MUSA President justified the spending stating that the spending was made out of huge excess of money that was left towards the end of the year; approximately RM 70,000.00. It was under the request of the Finance Department that they use the excess money and while the initial plan was for a trip, it was later cancelled due to the low response, hence some of the money was channelled towards an appreciation dinner for the members of MUSA 2016 who has worked incredibly hard throughout the year. Shah believes that it was only fair to reward the MUSA members who at times have had to make use of their money for events without claiming them back. He also believes that the welfare of the committee was just as important since a lot of sacrifices have been made by the committee to ensure and maintain the well-being of students on campus. While this may not be agreed upon by some people where they have been heavily criticised, it should be understood that a lot of behind the scenes work do go unnoticed and are not acknowledged. The money was also used to refurbish the MUSA lounge to create a more conducive environment for students who would spend their time there.
The Vice President of MUSA 2017, Vandana, then enquired if subsidies are generally given for external events or for internal events as well, to which Rachel, the Vice-President of MUSA 2016 answered that certain internal events are subsidised – events like the Shell-Eco Marathon, Monash University Model United Nations Conference and the School of Engineering Chem-E Car competition. Vandana also questioned the roll-over in subsidy approvals which seemed unfair at first given the fact that the incoming Vice President would not have any say about it but according to Rachel, it has always been the case since 2015 and such roll-overs are made merely due to the fact that for some events, they require quick approvals that cannot be delayed.
The excessive spending for the Monash Annual Ball was also questioned where the initial budget of RM 293,000.00 for the ball was exceeded by almost RM 19,000.00 with the actual expenditure of the ball tallying up to RM 311, 953.10. The excessive spending was deeply regretted by the MUSA President who said it was a result of a lack of communication between the 2016 Activities Chairpersons and the MUSA President as well as the Treasurer. It was spent on a couple of performances that night and a lot of parties agreed the spending were not justified due its incredibly high amount for something that was pretty “mediocre”. The Activities Chairpersons of 2016, Wei Onn and Vishag have been confronted in regards to this and they had apologised for the lack of transparency in the spending that took place for the event.
For some of the budgets which may have had its actual expenses surpassed the proposed budget, the finances were shared around within MUSA itself, hence allowing departments to utilise excess budget from other departments for their events and activities. There were also departments who did not fully utilised their budget, resulting in either small or huge balances, and these were at times be used by other departments as mentioned earlier for their own activities which may require extra funding.
The meeting was adjourned at about 8.30 p.m. where dinner was provided for everyone who attended the meeting and we thanked the student council of 2016 for taking their time to attend this meeting and answering question in regards to the budget that they had for 2016.
For more information on the Q&A session that took place as well as the full breakdown of the budget for each department and the utilisation of funds, you can access the full meeting minutes which will be uploaded once we receive them.
Below are the general overview of the statistics that were presented by the treasurers in regards to the proposed budget for each department in MUSA 2016 and their actual expenses for that year.
|Position||Proposed budget for 2016 (RM)||Actual expenses (RM)|
|General Secretary||14,000.00||10, 756.20|
|Activities Advisory||278, 000.00||344, 243.04|
|Welfare’s Officers||53,500.00||52, 523.74|
|School of Arts and Social Sciences Reps.||4,000.00||3,964.69|
|School of Business Reps.||13,500.00||6,418.44|
|School of Engineering Reps.||10, 000.00||12,123.59|
|School of Information Technology Reps.||6,000.00||5,840.83|
|School of Medicine and Health Sciences Reps.||8,600.00||8,376.40|
|School of Pharmacy Reps.||10,737.00||15,166.90|
|School of Science Reps.||9,470.00||6,902.12|
|School Reps. Jointly Organised Events||10,000.00||9,670.25|
|Clubs and Societies||300,000.00||260, 134.15|
|Monash University International Student Services.||200, 730.00||158,962.47|
Below is the proposed budget for MUSA 2017.
|Position||Total expenses (RM)||Expected revenue (RM)||Net expenses (RM)|
|School of Arts and Social Sciences Reps.||5,465.00||156.00||5,309.00|
|School of Business Reps.||13,950.00||6,250.00||7,700.00|
|School of Engineering Reps.||19,080.00||5,200.00||13,880.00|
|School of Information Technology Reps.||9,350.00||3,375.00||5,975.00|
|School of Medicine and Health Sciences Reps.||12,900.00||–||12,900.00|
|School of Pharmacy Reps.||16,250.00||–||16,250|
|School of Science Reps.||8,220.00||300.00||7,920.00|
|School Reps. Jointly Organised Events||9,690.00||–||9,690.00|
|Clubs and Societies||270,000.00||–||270,000.00|
|Monash University International Student Services.||268,020.00||50,020.00||218,000.00|
Total for MUSA 2017’s proposed budget: RM 1, 623, 396.00
Revenue expected from operations: RM 273, 396.00
Net amount for MUSA budget 2017: RM 1, 350,000.00
Words by Calvin Fernandez
Photos by Andrew Peter Lim