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University prepayment was Tory government promise: premier

Premier responds to complaints from audit accountants

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After the next academic year universities like Dahousie, pictured above, might see changes in the way they are funded. Photo: Sunni Vann

The NDP government pre-paid Nova Scotia university funding for 2010-11 in its last budget because the previous government had already made the agreement, Premier Darrell Dexter says.

The premier made the comment today after a consultant criticized the province's accounting in a statement before the legislature’s public accounts committee Wednesday.

When accountants from Deloitte audited the previous government's budget last summer, they recommended that the current government stop the prepayment of funds to university, Shannon MacDonald, Deloitte's Atlantic practice managing partner said yesterday.

The NDP government added $341 million to their last budget when they included the university prepayment. The universities’ 2010-11 funding constitutes the largest part of the projected $525-million deficit.

“We’re going to be in a position to establish a new memorandum for future understanding of the universities,” says Dexter.

The government doesn’t have any imminent plans to develop a funding agreement with the universities.

Dexter said they have not begun discussions because the prepayment from the last budget covers the universities’ next year of funding.

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