Leave fares worry

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TRAVEL plans by some teachers to return to their home districts with their families this Christmas are likely to be affected again by the cut in funding for leave fares this year.
Some teachers are still owed leave fares from 2015 and 2016, which an official in the Treasury Department blamed on the current cash-flow problem government is facing.
“The delay in funds remittance is due to the cash-flow shortfall that we are experiencing and it is expected that the provincial governments could assist in funding some expenditure items such as teachers’ leave fares,” the official said.
“The leave fares grant is one of the outstanding grants that is still to be transferred from Waigani to the provinces.”
Finance Secretary Dr Ken Ngangan told The National yesterday he needed to check with officers handling leave fares first before commenting on the matter because it was an “important issue”.
In Port Moresby, at least three senior teachers indicated yesterday they planned to take the matter to court.
In East Sepik, teachers were told by the education adviser and the acting administrator that they should expect less than what they had applied for because the “amount received was lower than the warrant issued”.
In Madang, provincial education director Moses Sariki said about K1.6 million was available but teachers would not receive the full amount they had applied for because of a cut in funding.
“The initial budget requested for teachers’ leave fares of K3 million but was cut by almost half because of the current economic situation the country is facing,” he said.
“All teachers are entitled to leave fares. When the balance of the K3 million comes, then they will get their balance.”
Sariki also said during screening of teachers due for leave, the committee discovered that some teacher couples had used different names to apply for leave.
He said only one of them should be applying for leave and not both at the same time.
Sariki said teachers absent from school were not entitled for leave fares.
The leave fare problem has been recurring for some years. A special parliamentary committee on public sector reform had recommended a complete change to the cuwrrent system of paying leave fares for teachers.