Provincial Teachers Frustrated By Missing Funds In PNG

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Morobe educators’ travel fares reportedly could not be paid

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Dec. 19, 2013) – More than 200 teachers in schools around Morobe, Papua new Guinea, fronted up yesterday at the provincial education office at Top Town in Lae demanding why they were not paid their leave fares in time for the festive season.

This has been an ongoing issue for years and needs to be addressed, the teachers said.

Voices were raised when the provincial education chairman Andrew Gena, provincial programme adviser Murika Bihoro, planner Keith Jiram and officers in the education division tried to attend to their grievances.

Teachers from the primary, secondary and tertiary institutions convened as early as 8am to air their distress and they were allocated numbers and acknowledgement letters to see the travel agent for their tickets on Monday.

The first 45 teachers were able to get theirs and the rest were rejected because there was no money.

"We teachers are frustrated the way things are going and want concerned authorities to look into the provincial education department as we submitted our claim forms in April giving the department enough time to sort out the problem," the teachers said.

"With the budget allocated, the money should be deposited into individual accounts and not to service providers who ripped 10% to 15% from our entitlements which is 100% rightfully ours."

Principal adviser special government functions coordinator Tony Ase said leave fares and posting were a big problem.

"By the time they receive their entitlements, the holidays are over. When they don’t make it in time for the new school year, they become the victims and get put off from the payroll when they don’t complete their resumption forms and the end result is the students suffer," he said.

"The problem lies between the Education Department and the Treasury and the officers responsible must attend to this problem immediately and pay leave components with final payments into the teachers’ account instead of doing it separate."

Gena said that cheques could not be printed because there was no money in the bank account and the K3 million [US$1.2 million] allocated was not enough to cater for every teacher.

"We (the department) have taken the approach to discourage teachers travelling by boat because of the tragedy that took place last year and have converted their boat fares to airfares," he said.

Only a few teachers from Mamose, Highlands, NGI and Southern regions have received their entitlements and asked the education authorities to give them until the end of the week to source some more funds to sort out their leave fares entitlement.

A submission made to the finance department has been approved but the amount to be released is undisclosed because of the process involved

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