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JTA to demand gov't pays over outstanding $1 billion to teachers

Published:Sunday | April 27, 2014 | 6:26 PM

The Jamaica Teacher's Association (JTA) is to meet with the finance ministry this week over an outstanding $1 billion owed to teachers.



The owed sum resulted from a reclassification exercise in 2007, which the Government was ordered to pay to teachers by the courts.



JTA President Dr Mark Nicely says the ministry has missed several deadlines to pay over the sums and teachers are becoming restive about the matter. The last payment was made in July last year.



Nicely says he expects, at the very least, that the finance ministry will agree to a deadline to complete the payments.



According to JTA president, contrary to the finance ministry's announcement last July that it had fully paid the outstanding money, an investigation by the JTA showed that it had not completed the payments, and as much as J$1 billion is still owed to educators. He says the JTA's finding was supported by the education ministry.



He says the finance ministry has said that it will need to conduct an audit to determine the full sum owed to teachers, but that the audit may have to be conducted by private persons as it does not have the resources to commit to conducting an audit at the moment.



But the JTA president says teachers are not interested in an audit at this time.



Also, the JTA is expecting Finance Minister Dr Peter Phillips to retract his proposal to implement a financial transaction tax on withdrawals and encashments from deposit-taking institutions.



Nicely says at a meeting of unions last Thursday, which included the JTA, Phillips promised a review of the proposed tax.



The tax is intended to raise J$2.25 billion from banks and securities dealers to finance the 2014/2015 budget. It will be be levied on a scale: 0.1 per cent for withdrawals or encashments below $1 million; 0.09 per cent up to J$5 million; 0.075 per cent on transactions above J$5 million up to J$20 million; and 0.05 per cent above J$20 million.



The JTA says an alternative should be sought to avoid another imposition of taxes on public sector workers, who he says, are the most compliant taxpayers.



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