After finally filing their taxes from the last four years, the AUS has now reclaimed $114,000 of their funds that were seized by the Quebec government. Since the AUS had not filed their taxes from 2008 onwards, the Quebec government initially froze $16,000 in 2010 from the AUS’ chequing account, followed by $84,000 in 2011.
Moreover, McGill withheld all student fees from 2010 on because the AUS had failed to submit their mandatory audits. In an attempt to disentangle this crisis, current AUS VP Finance Saad Qazi spent both summer and winter break working with the AUS’ hired accountants from LMKCA to back-file the accumulation of taxes dating back to 2008. It was just last month that the government removed the AUS from the list of delinquents and released $114,000 of seized funds; an amount that was more than what Qazi had expected.
Starting at a mere $800 in the chequing and savings accounts respectively, an ecstatic Qazi reported that now the AUS has over $315,000 in their savings account. The influx of funds is courtesy of the released funds and profits from events like Frosh, which made $17,000 alone in profit in 2012. Since the AUS filed their audits to McGill, the Administration has finally released all student fees to the AUS.
Qazi also revealed that according to the exit report of the VP Finance two years ago, it would have taken at least ten years for the AUS to bring their savings account to the $135,000 that they had before the “financial crisis” occurred. Qazi managed to do it in just one year. So the same question arises once more: How can this situation be averted in the future?
As per the proposed changes to the by-laws of the AUS, the new VP Finance should have some prior knowledge of finance and accounting. Moreover, Qazi also mentioned that the AUS has put forth a referendum in the hopes of hiring a full-time employee to overlook the finances. This would ensure that the operations are carried out to the level that the auditors require.
Is the $1.50 increase in full-time student fees, which will be allocated towards funding the salary of the new employee, be enough to ensure that this financial debacle never happens again? Qazi and AUS President Devon LaBuik definitely agree. If the referendum in question regarding the new employee passes, then the new VP Finance would need some basic knowledge pertaining to financial management.
Right now, Qazi said that they keep only the bare minimum of the finances to cover the day-to-day operational costs. Moreover, severe “austerity measures” have also been imposed on this year’s AUS executives. For example, traditionally, the AUS funds the clothing orders, but this year it is the executives who will be doling out the cash for their individual customized hoodies. Although seemingly slight, such actions can go a long way to instill a newfound sense of responsibility that executives of the largest faculty undergraduate society at McGill must have when continuing onward in the wake of such a financial disaster.
The next VP Finance will have some big shoes to fill next year, as Qazi’s term ends at the end of April. Saad notes, “[I] hope the financial mechanism we have set up now is good enough for the people this year and the one after that.”