The Ministry of Finance and Economic Management (MoFEM) has received a list of outstanding claims for teachers submitted by the Ministry of Education and Training (MoET) on Wednesday this week.

Acting Director of Finance, Lester Roan, conveyed this to the Vanuatu Teachers Union (VTU) and its members on their visit yesterday. He said the MoET submitted the claims at their request due to the current situation.

The Acting Director said these outstanding claims for housing allowance; severance, partial severance, contract, child allowance and others amount to a quite significant amount, as they have accumulated over some years.

He said now that claims are submitted, the MoFEM, MoET and the Teaching Service Commission (TSC) will collaborate to verify the information provided and come up with a payment plan to settle the outstanding amounts based on budget availability of MoET, since the outstanding claims cannot be settle all at once.

Acting Director Roan said they will be using the same procedure used when sorting out the COVID-19 risk allowances for health workers.

When addressing the VTU members yesterday, he explained that under the Public Finance and Economic Management Act, the responsibility of a ministry’s budget rests on the Director General (DG).

The DG of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), Cherol Ala, echoed the same statement. She mentioned that traditionally, the DGs oversee the budget of their respective government ministries.

“A DG signs off on their ministry’s budget and all expenditures. In the event of a misuse, an Acting DG assumes this responsibility,” she said.

She emphasised that the budget is under the jurisdiction of the MoET.

DG Ala and the Acting Finance Director were part of a delegation from the PMO instructed by the Prime Minister to hold discussions with VTU.

Through its industrial action, VTU is demanding that the control of the teachers’ budget be transferred from the DG of Education to the TSC, the employer of the teachers.

According to the Secretary General (SG) of VTU, Jonathan Yona, the teachers’ grievances would be effectively addressed if their funds are managed by the teachers’ employer.