Friday, 23 December 2016

President Buhari Urges Governors To PayWorkers’ Salaries From Debt Refunds

President Muhammadu Buhari has
requested state governors to settle
outstanding salaries and entitlements of
their workers with at least 25 per cent of
refunds to them from excess deductions for
external debt service. Malam Garba Shehu,
the president’s Senior Special Assistant on
Media and Publicity, stated this in a
statement he issued in Abuja on Thursday.
President Buhari recently approved
N552.74 billion to be paid in batches to all
the states that are owed. Thirty three of the
affected states are, however, expected to
receive 25 per cent of their approved sums
in the first instance before this week runs
The refunds arose following the claims by
them that they had been overcharged in
deductions for external debt service
between 1995 and 2002. President Buhari
The statement quoted President Buhari as
saying that “the issue of workers benefits,
particularly salary and pensions must not
be allowed to continue as a national
problem and should be tackled with all the
urgency that can be summoned.’’ The
statement recalled that when the president
assumed office last year, he declared an
emergency over unpaid salaries, following
the discovery that 27 out of the country’s
36 states had fallen behind in the payments
to their workers, in some cases for up to a
year. “Following this, a bailout loan was
issued to the states twice with a first batch
of about N300 billion given to them in 2015
in the form of soft loans.
“The administration also got the Debt
Management Office, DMO to restructure
their commercial loans of over N660 billion
and extended the life span of the loans.
“Because this did not succeed in pulling
many of the states out of distress, the
Federal Government this year gave out a
further N90 billion to 22 states as yet
another bailout loans under very stringent
conditions. “President Buhari has
expressed the opinion all the time that the
payment of salaries and pensions must be
given priority to save both serving and
retired workers and their families from
distress,’’ the statement maintained.