Guinea-Bissau suspends teachers’ salaries to root out fake staff

BISSAU (Reuters) – Guinea-Bissau’s government has ordered the suspension of teachers’ salaries to weed out fraudulent claims on the payroll from fictitious workers, according to a statement released on Thursday.

The tiny West African country that depends largely on external aid to meet salaries in the education sector, has declared a war on ghost civil servants in order to curb its wage bill.

A July 18 decision by the country’s council of ministers that was published on Thursday also instructed the education ministry to carry out a census of the number of its employees.

The decision will affect some 8,000 teachers in the country’s primary and secondary schools who earn on average around 50,000 CFA francs ($85) per month. The decision drew threats of action from a teaching union.

The International Monetary Fund, which reached a staff level agreement for a $3.16 million extended credit facility for Guinea Bissau in May, says the Bissau government missed three of its eight economic reforms targets that were due in March.

One of the missed targets was a ceiling on wages.

Domingos de Carvalho, president of Bissau’s National Union of Teachers, said the union would appeal against the decision it called unfair.

“We are not planning any strike action, but we are thinking of finding other effective ways of reacting,” de Carvalho said.

($1 = 589.5200 Central African CFA franc BEAC)

(Reporting by Alberto Dabo; Writing by Anait Miridzhanian; Editing by Bate Felix and Alison Williams)