Tuesday 22 October, 2019

‘Ghost workers' in reforestation programme, says Minister

Photo: Getty Images

Photo: Getty Images

The Ministry of Agriculture, Lands and Fisheries is having a problem with ‘ghost workers' within its reforestation programme.

Planning Minister Camille Robinson-Regis, speaking for Agriculture Minister Clarence Rambharat in Parliament, said the Ministry has been trying to verify that workers hired by contractors are real and not ‘ghost workers', which is why salaries have been three months late.

“The documentary approval for this was sent…later than usual because we had to check to make sure all the elements necessary for us to gain approval were in place, and we have since sent in the documents.

“What we have found is that there are so-called ‘ghost workers'…who contractors have ostensibly hired and we had to make sure that the persons who are listed are in fact the persons who are working. A lot of this took place before 2015 and we are trying to make sure that we rectify this,” she said.

Robinson-Regis said the request for the funds has since been sent to the Finance Ministry which is processing the request.

The Ministry of Finance is currently working on the approval for the release of funds. The Ministry has, in the interim, processed all the pay sheets from contractors and is in a position to process payments for the various bank accounts once the approval is given by the Ministry of Finance.”

She said this problem has been occurring prior to 2015.

“That has been the particular situation that has troubled this programme…for quite an inordinate length of time. As a consequence of that, what the Ministry has been doing is making sure the contractors have in fact hired the persons they say they have hired, and consequently that is why we have been doing this audit,” she said. 

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