Posted by Mayowa Okekale, Abuja | 4 July 2017 | 1,279 times
Governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom, has insisted that the Benue State government cannot sustain a monthly wage bill of N7.9 billion, saying that his administration has commenced a comprehensive audit of staff to fish out ghost workers and remove personnel that are due for retirement but are still on the pay roll.
Speaking on Monday to State House Correspondents after a meeting at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, Governor Ortom said: “The staff audit which will last for three months will put the government in a better position to pay all salaries being owed workers at both the state and local government council level.”
He explained that the wage bill at the state level was currently N4.2 billion while that of local government council stood at N3.7 billion monthly.
Ortom said: “You will recall that I declared state of emergency on payment of salaries, and I want to have the capacity to pay salaries as and when due because a worker deserves his wages. We discovered that there were so many leakages on our payroll and ghost workers and infiltration here and there.
“I think that a wage bill of over N3.2 billion at the state is too much at the state level. Then when you add pensions and gratuity you are talking about N4.2 billion; it is too much for Benue State. And at the local government you have a wage bill of N3.7 billion. So, if you are talking about N7.9 billion for a state, it is not descent enough.
“Ghost workers, those who were due for retirement are still in the service, those who are dead are still collecting salaries and all that. So, we believe that at the end of the day we will be able to scale down to a level that we will be able to pay salaries as and when due.
“Though we inherited N8.2 billion and through various screenings we were able to scale down to N7.9 billion.”
The Benue State Governor explained that the administration was currently applying a modified table payment system that will last through the period of the staff screening. He, however, said that no cash was involved in the system.
“What we are doing now is modified table payment. No cash will be involved but we do it and you collect your money through the bank, and we have already started making discoveries,” he added.
Governor Ortom also expressed happiness with the flag off of export of yams by the Federal Government to the United Kingdom and America which he noted will boost government's policy of diversifying the economy.
He said that Benue State Government and farmers will take full advantage of the yam export programme and other agriculture products such as sesame seeds and soybeans.
“Of course, the chairman of yam exportation is from Benue State, a Professor from the Federal University of Agriculture and we are deeply involved in it. We believe that this is the way to drive the economy, diversifying it to agriculture and exporting it, earning hard currency will add value to our economic development,” the Benue Governor added.
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