All the salary arrears, as well as pension arrears owed to local government staff in the 17 local government areas of Enugu State, would be paid soon.
Commissioner for Labour and Productivity, Barr. Emeka Okeke, who disclosed this in an interview in his office said that a committee that would disburse the N3.9 billion has been set up, adding that 25% of the funds is for the clearance of pension whereas 75% is for the clearance of the salary arrears.
According to Okeke, the state governor, Chief Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi was committed to the workers’ welfare.
He pointed out that to ensure transparency in the disbursement, the committee is made of representatives from NLC, NULGE, JACC, state chairman of ALGON, former secretary, pensions fund as well as other stakeholders.
To drive home the seriousness of the exercise, Okeke equally disclosed that the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance is the chairman of the committee and ICPC staff are also members of the committee.
Okeke equally pointed out that the fund would be disbursed in the same manner the N4.2 billion bail out fund was expended that got the attention of the Senate Committee that verified the compliance of states and gave Enugu a big pass mark.
The Commissioner however, intimated that before the eventual disbursement of the Fund, an audit verification of the staff have to be carried and then the committee will go to local government areas to ensure that it is disbursed appropriately.
Okeke seized the opportunity to dispel the rumour making the rounds that the Paris Club Fund for Enugu State meant for the clearance of council staff and pensions had be diverted.
“The allegation that the money earmarked for disbursement has been diverted cannot hold water. Those peddling such rumour are not informed,” the Commissioner maintained.
Meantime, the former Governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi, has opposed the use of the Paris Club refunds to pay workers’ salaries, advising that the money should rather be used in a planned manner that would be of benefit to the people. He made the suggestion on Sunday while featuring on a discussion programme on Classic FM, Lagos.
His words: “States should be made to save the refunds. They have enough to pay salaries and meet their other obligations. There is no reason for any governor not to pay salaries. Why must we share everything? We must develop a culture of saving. By now, we should have changed our constitution to say that we should save 10% of our oil revenue. We must realise that we must deprive ourselves of epicurean comfort and prepare adequately for the rainy days.”
Speaking on ways the country could get out of recession, Obi said that basically, economies were driven by faith and advised Nigeria’s leaders to always behave, by action and in words, in a way that would elicit confidence in the economy.
He said that while he was not averse to borrowing, “there should be a clear plan on what to do with the money and how to pay back.”