PARIS CLUB REFUND: GOV DICKSON RELEASES N5.6 BN TO PAY SALARY ARREARS IN BAYELSA
The Governor of Bayelsa State, Honorable Henry Seriake Dickson, has authorized the release of N5.6 BN Paris Club Debt funds received by the state in December to pay one and a half months salary arrears owed workers during the peak of the biting economic recession in the country in 2016.
The Governor had called a consultative meeting of top government officials and Labour leaders and their representatives on the Paris Club Fund received in the state in December, in line with the transparency policy of his administration.
A statement signed by the Special Adviser to the Governor on Media Relations, Mr. Fidelis Soriwei, stated that the state government received a total of N14.8 billion from the Federal Government.
The breakdown shows the state received N13.5 billion while the local government councils received N1.37 billion.
Governor Dickson explained further that the outstanding salaries arrears were a balance of half salaries he paid for seven months during the recession in 2016.
The governor appreciated the work force for displaying understanding during the trying period of the recession in 2016 which affected the resources of the state in an adverse way.
According to him, while most of the older states in the country have lower wage bills, Bayelsa State’s Wage Bill was over N6 billion (State and LGAs) because of the detrimental activities of some fraudulent characters.
The Governor lamented that the wage bill in the state had remained high, in spite of its low Internally Generated Revenue base, which he put at N500, 000 million per month on the average.
He added further that, the recurrent burden on the state had become too high as the individual Bayelsa civil servant earns almost twice the income of their counterparts in other states of the Federation.
He explained that, the government was making sustained efforts to also clean up the payroll mess to reduce the abominable wage bill.
The governor said that he had always taken the issue of payment of salaries as a priority as shown by the fact that the state under his leadership did not owe workers throughout his first tenure.
The Governor also warned that he would not tolerate any complaint of inability of the councils to pay salaries in the councils as from January, 2018.
He stressed that the state had not deducted any money from local government funds as they had enjoyed financial autonomy from the inception of his administration.
Dickson who said that he would not fund the councils with monies from the state government urged the leadership of the councils to have a workforce which they have the capacity to train, manage and maintain.
According to him, the state could only come in to aid the primary schoo education system.
“This January, I will not hear that any Council Chairman is not able to pay salaries. I will not also augment your salaries with state money. You are also at liberty to fire those that are not working. You employ them, you are the ones that can fire them.
“The blackmail of blaming the state over local government inability to pay salaries should stop.
“The councils should live within their income. We have to be clear about these things. Councils should be encouraged to retain the staff they can comfortably train, maintain and pay.”
According to him, while most of the older states in the country have a wage bill of N2 billion, Bayelsa State’s Wage Bill was over N6 billion (State and LGAs) because of the detrimental activities of some fraudulent people.
He lamented that the state had the highest wage bill in spite of its low Internally Generated Revenue base which he said was N500, 000 million per month on the average.
The Commissioner for Finance was directed to give a statement of the total amount of money received from the Paris Club Fund said that the state received a total of N14.8 billion out of which N1.37 billion was for the local governments and N13.5 for the states government.
About N5.6 billion of the Fund is being spent to pay the one and a half months salary arrears owed workers in the state.