By Scott Waide – EMTV News, Lae
Papua New Guinea’s Education Minister has drawn attention to the debt owed by teachers all over the country to finance companies.
While the figure has not been put against the amount owed, there are indications, it is a widespread problem affecting public servants all over the country who are struggling to keep up with high costs.
Nick Kuman said that he has made a submission to the National Executive Council that “will affect public servants all over the country.”
“We got to find a way to solve all these problems. We had a similar situation in 2014 when all the finance companies got together and took us to court and there is a court order in place. Only yesterday, I was served another court order to prevent us from not allowing teachers from obtaining loans,” he said.
“We want to see that they must be managed from the teachers accounts themselves.”
“Any other deductions, the Minister for Finance, the Minister for Public Service and I will make a joint statement and inform the country on what our position is.”
Kuman made the statement in Parliament as part of an explanation of the pay cuts to teachers salaries.
Kuman said salary deductions had left many teachers with less than K100 in their accounts, over three consecutive fortnights.
Investigations by the Education Department have indicated, that many of the deductions experienced by teachers were due to loans that teachers took out, against the temporary salary increases
As part of an agreement between the government and the PNG Teachers Association, the Education Department was supposed to pay a 3% increase. However, it didn’t happen earlier because of cash flow problems in 2017. The Government did eventually pay the promised increases in 2018 over several fortnights.
It has also become apparent that many teachers may not have understood how the amounts were reached or that it was only temporary.
“Because of cash flow problems, the NEC directed that we will make these payments over six and a half pay periods commencing on pay 13 and terminating on pay 19,” Kuman said.
“I want to assure the teachers all over the country that the 3% increase was approved in 2016, over six and a half fortnights. Unfortunately, we had a problem with the Alesco payroll system and the final payment was made in Pay 20.”
Kuman gave examples of how teachers would have seen an increase in their salaries, over the course of six fortnights, followed by a drop after the temporary increase ended.