THERE is no money to pay for leave fares and entitlements for the majority of teachers in the country, the teachers’ association claims.
Papua New Guinea Teachers Association Highlands’ regional secretary John Melson said warrants for the teachers’ leave fares issued by the Finance Department in the five Highlands’ provinces bounced from the Bank of PNG because there was no money.
Melson said more than 2000 teachers from Hela, Southern Highlands, Enga, Chimbu and Eastern Highlands did not receive their leave entitlements.
Similar claims came in from the National Capital District yesterday.
Melson said teachers in Jiwaka and Western Highlands received theirs but not in full.
Those teachers had half their leave fares cut for unknown reasons, he said. It was an administrative matter and he wanted the two concerned provincial governments to find the money and pay what was due to the teachers, Melson said.
“The PNGTA regional office’s stand is very clear, all teachers will not take up their teaching positions on Jan 26 when the schooling year starts until all teachers missing out on their leave entitlements and those who received half are properly sorted out and paid,” Melson warned.
He said students would find empty classrooms when they returned to school on Feb 2 if the teachers were not paid.
“The warrants issued by the Finance Department to the respective provincial administrations for teachers’ leave fares have become useless.
“The banks refuse because the bank told them that there is no money in the central bank.”
PNGTA Hela and Southern Highlands’ branch president Christopher Kaia said teachers who were supposed to be getting their leave fares and entitlements were stranded. They had missed out on spending Christmas at home.
Kaia said the provincial treasury officers told them that there was no money to pay for the fares.
PNGTA Chimbu branch president John Aramba said 400 teachers from there were still waiting. Aramba said that teachers from other provinces were supposed to spend Christmas with their families.
Enga association president Mark Sakol said that 300 teachers from there were affected. Mark said every time his provincial administrator, Dr Samson Amean, checked with the bank for the warrant issued, the bank told him that there was no money.
“Dr Amean assured the affected teachers that he would find money elsewhere and pay for the leave fares,” Mark said.
He appealed to the affected teachers to remain calm because it was a nationwide problem.
Southern Highlands’ provincial education adviser Joel Raitano expressed concerns and dissatisfaction over the delayed payments. He blamed the Finance Department. Raitano said the Southern Highlands provincial administration did its budgets and followed up on teachers’ entitlements but the department had not released the funds.
Raitano said the reason for the delay was not known but the teachers were told to check for their payments on Jan 6.
“Because it is a requirement, we have done numerous follow ups with the Finance Department but the funds are still not released,” he said.
Raitano said most of the functioning branches of the Education Department in the province had been operating on bills.
He said there were no funds available in the province to conduct normal school activities for teachers, students and schools.
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