Red tape stalls URP payments
Thursday, January 24 2013
WHILE some workers of the Unemployment Relief Programme’s (URP) Agriculture Programme have received their much awaited payments for work done since November 14, others still have not been paid.
On Monday, four members of the Agriculture Programme from San Raphael contacted Newsday stating they were still awaiting their cheques from the URP. Some are waiting on payment for two cycles, while others claim all four outstanding payments are still due.
Unlike workers from Sangre Grande, these workers are still attending the programme despite not being paid or being partially paid.
Contacted on this issue, URP Manager Thomas George said, “All the people who have (URP issued) debit cards received their pay. The cheques are something you have to prepare. Cheques take longer.”
George explained that not all workers have debit cards to receive electronic payments. The URP uses First Citizens Bank as its debit card distributor. However, a URP worker must make an appointment with the bank first in order to receive a direct deposit payment. But, some workers are unable to meet their appointment and have to rely on receiving cheques. These cheques are prepared in the Office of the Prime Minister, but take time to be generated. This, he said, is the reason why some people have not received their money.
Minister of Food Production Devant Maharaj, has expressed regret that the workers have not received their payments. He has been working with those responsible for the payments since the issue was made known to him three weeks ago. He believes more should be done by the URP to get payments to workers in a timely manner.
“The problem with the URP workers is the process of the programme. They are not furnishing us with information. The administration of the URP must be more cognizant of the information. The documents are lying unattended in the URP and this information must be given to the Ministry of Food Production,” Maharaj told Newsday.