Prime Minister Dr. Timothy Harris

By Staff Writer

While more than $12 million was paid out to former sugar workers through the government’s Sugar Workers Restoration Fund, a significant number of dependants have still not been paid for deceased relatives who worked in the industry says Prime Minister Dr. Timothy Harris.

Dr. Harris provided a report to reporters at his monthly press conferenceWednesday, disclosing that 1,845 people habe been paid under the program which is now closed. He included relatives of deceased former sugar workers in the number.

He said the $12 million that has been paid to date includes $1.5 million compensated to third parties that are representatives of the deceased workers.

The compensation program was created in 2015 as part of a promise made by the government during its elections campaign.  It has been riddled with controversy from the start. Some people complained they did not receive funds even though they were told they received all payments due under the Labour Administration, while other individuals received far less than they expected.

The payment to third parties was another controversy that has been affecting the government. During his last press briefing, Dr. Harris said the criticism charged against his administration about the payment delays were directed in the wrong area since the payments were tied up in the courts.

He told reporters many former sugar workers have died without a will or necessary arrangements on who should benefit from their estate and that the procedure needed to go through the courts.

“There are times when persons at the unit think they have all the information, then someone comes from abroad and you have a new situation develop where invariably you have contested claims and those have to be resolved,” he added.

He urged those individuals waiting for their claims to make regular checks with SWRF to make sure their applications are being processed in a timely manner.