Teachers to pay back excess allowances

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Obrein Simasiku

Omuthiya-A number of rural teachers in Oshikoto Region are disgruntled following a circular informing them that money will be deducted from their salaries as from this month, because their remoteness allowances exceeded what was due to them.

According to letters seen by New Era, some teachers were overpaid between April 2015 and December 2016. The highest amount was recorded at N$21,000. The amounts to be deducted will depend on the salary scale of each individual
and will be deducted over a period of 12 to 24 months, based on how much they had been overpaid.

The circular from the regional directorate of education, dated October, 30, that shocked teachers at Okashana Primary School, some 20 kilometres southeast of Omuthiya, says: “According to our finance office, Oshikoto directorate, it shows that you have been overpaid with an amount of N$21,000. This overpayment came as a result of the remoteness allowance; such amount was paid to you erroneously between April 1, 2015 and December 31, 2016.

“On the basis of the above, an amount of N$1,750 will be deducted from your monthly salary over a period of 12 months until the total overpayment amount is recovered. The deduction starts as of 1 December 2017 to recover the amount paid in excess.”

“If you are unable to pay the above-mentioned amount within the above-mentioned timeframe, you should submit your statement of income and expenditures in order for this office to approach the permanent secretary for approval,” the circular concluded.

Oshikoto regional education director Lamek Kafidi confirmed having issued the notice.
Teachers at Okashana demanded to know what procedures were used to set the benchmark for deductions, and wanted an explanation from the directorate before they start deducting money.

“We are not accepting this notice for now without any satisfactory explanation from the officials or the director himself,” said one teacher who wished to remain anonymous for fear of reprisals.

In response Kafidi said, “The law will have to be followed. We are executing what it says. Mistakes are done by humans and when it is done it will have to be rectified, and that’s what we are doing now,” he emphasised.

He could not specify how many teachers were affected though. At Okashana all staff were affected by the decision.
“The law has made provisions already for those that cannot afford the repayment method indicated, and such people should approach our offices instead of going to the media.

“Those that are going to the media are the ones without real situational questions and want to create stories,” the education director said.

Kafidi reiterated that some cases of overpayment were due to job transfers, maternity leave and promotions.
The latest missive comes a month after several staff and teachers in Zambezi and Kavango regions were nabbed for allegedly defrauding the Education Ministry out of millions of dollars.

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