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Thursday 22 March 2018

$22M for forestry workers

SOME 2,225 workers in the National Reforestation Programme will be paid $22 million in wages for August and September, Agriculture Minister Clarence Rambharat told Newsday yesterday.

He said the workers were employed by 65 contractors working across the country to replant forests on State lands.

Rambharat said after some delays in payment in August, Cabinet had approved funding to the end of September that his ministry would access through the Ministry of Finance.

He said the programme’s structure had led to problems every other month for workers to get paid. In past years some reforestation workers had not been paid until October, that is, after the National Budget.

“We try to avoid that now,” Rambharat said. “They’ll be paid up to the end of September and then we go into a new Budget cycle.” An Agriculture Ministry statement said recent delays every month in the payment of wages were due to a shortfall in the funding of the programme.

It said the settlement of all outstanding wages would treated with urgency. The statement added, “Senator Rambharat expresses sincere apologies ‘for the delay in the payment of wages’ and he thanks them for their patience.” On Tuesday, affected workers had protested for wages outside Rambharat’s office in St Clair.


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