Mon | Aug 21, 2017

Education ministry to release payment for travelling and upkeep after three month delay

Published:Wednesday | July 6, 2016 | 7:00 AM

The Ministry of Education has indicated that it will be releasing $48.5 million in upkeep and travel for principals and guidance counsellors. The funds have not been paid for the past three months.

Primary school principals and guidance counsellors in quality education cluster (QEC) 48, in region five, have been most affected by the delay in payment of travelling and upkeep.

While the principals have welcomed news of the disbursement they remain concerned that only one month of payment will be issued.

"We were just told that we will be getting one month upkeep/travelling, only for the month of April ... we were not told when May and June will be paid, this is a disaster," one principal told The Gleaner.

The principal, who asked not to be identified, said that she has been hounded by the banks in regards to payments on her car loan.

"There are some of us who depend on our upkeep to pay our car loan and for three months you can't get that money to pay for your car. It means you have to pay more in interest and the banks are calling you too," she lamented.

Another principal expressed concern that the school's guidance councillor had not been attending school on a regular basis as a result of the delay in payment of the funds for travelling and upkeep.

"The guidance councillor has hardly been coming, she can't get to travel because her insurance is up and she does not have the funds to pay the premium," the principal disclosed.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Dr Maurice Smith explained that the financial management system used for paying public sector workers has been down for an extended period.

"The technical issues have been resolved and now the ministry is able to honour its obligations all of which are routed through the Accountant General. That was the reason for the delay," he said in response to questions from The Gleaner.

Principals and guidance counsellors have said their queries to the regional and central offices and the ministry did not yield much of an explanation for the delay of the funds.

"Each time we called the accounts department at the MOE Region 5 office we are told no funds are available. I have called the MOE (Ministry of Education) more than once and I am getting the same answer ... no funds in accounts," one principal said.

Smith was, however, adamant that the, "ministry would have communicated to its clients through the appropriate mechanisms".

"It is our expectation that our travelling officers will receive the funds before the end of the week. We would have apologised to our team members for the inconve-nience but as always, we thank them for their remarkable patience and understanding," he said.

andre.poyser@gleanerjm.com