The Minister of Information, Dr Mustapha Abdul-Hamid, says the government has paid more than GH¢40 million of the arrears it owes members of the National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT).
The government currently owes NAGRAT members more than GH₵50 million in salary arrears, vehicle maintenance allowances, transfer grants and transport and travel allowances since 2013.
Confirming the payment to the Daily Graphic in Accra on Thursday, Dr Abdul-Hamid said the government had given instructions for the release of funds to pay part of the arrears to teachers.
Last Wednesday, April 4, 2018, NAGRAT called an indefinite strike following what it described as broken promises by the government to pay the arrears in excess of GH¢50 million which dated back to 2013.
The total arrears owed members of the association include GH¢50 million in transfer grants and vehicle maintenance allowances — GH¢13 million in transfer grants and GH¢36 million in vehicle maintenance allowances.
But, in a swift reaction, the government has indicated that it had already directed the Controller and Accountant-General’s Department (CAGD) to release funds amounting to GH¢40,368,203.71 to be paid as salary arrears to 2,566 Ghana Education Service (GES) employees.
A letter dated March 29, 2018, authorising the Controller and Accountant-General to release funds for the payment of the arrears has been signed by a Deputy Minister of Finance, Ms Abena Osei-Asare.
Making reference to a letter numbered PPD/30/100/23/03 and dated March 23, 2018 from the CAGD on the subject, the letter states in part: “You are hereby authorised to pay the salary arrears of 2,566 Ghana Education Service employees to the tune of GH¢40,368,203.71 as for the period September 2012 to August 2016.
“The sum of GH¢40,368,203.71 should be charged against the March 2018 salaries of the Ministry of Education per the Ministry of Finance General Warrant for salaries issued each month.
“The Controller and Accountant-General should ensure that returns are submitted to the Auditor General, Audit Service for validation and post audit. It must, however, be noted that should the Audit Service come across any overpayment of arrears in the course of a post audit, any officer found culpable will be surcharged to refund the amount wrongly paid with interest.”
In spite of the move taken by the government to pay part of the arrears, NAGRAT says it will continue with its strike.
According to its President, Mr Eric Agbe-Carbonu, calling off the strike on the basis of the promise by the government to effect payment today, April 6, would be a wrong move, as the scheduled payment to the 2,500 teachers barely covered five per cent of the total number of unpaid teachers.
He also asked what the Audit Service had done with the validation exercise that was ongoing during the about six years that the government had owed teachers.
Mr Agbe-Carbonu, however, said NAGRAT would continue to monitor any payment to its members and ensure that plans were put in place to pay the remaining arrears before the association would call off the strike.