NLC strategises to monitor state governors over Paris club refunds

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The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) is putting in place strategies to monitor the disbursement of N243.9bn, which is the second tranche of the Paris Club loan refund to state governments.

The General Secretary of the NLC, Dr. Peter Ozo-Eson, in an interview with The PUNCH, said state chapters of the congress had been directed to send reports on the states’ compliance with an agreement with labour to utilise part of the refund to pay salary arrears.

In December 2016, the Federal Government released the first tranche of the Paris Club loan refund to the states.

With the payment of N243.9bn on Tuesday, the total amount paid to the states and the Federal Capital Territory increased to N760.17bn

It was learnt that the Federal Government and state governments reached an agreement that 75 per cent of the refund should be used to pay workers’ salaries and pensions.

But in an interview on June 4, the President of the NLC, AliyuWabba, said 10 states had not paid salaries regularly.

He had said, “Many of the states have been diverting the bailout meant to pay outstanding salaries and pensions to other things; and this is why we are in the present situation.

“If the state governors have not been diverting the bailout, the issue of workers and pensioners being owed would have become a thing of the past.”

Ozo-Eson, in the interview with The PUNCH, said it was the position of the NLC that priority should be given to the payment of workers’ salaries.

He stated that the NLC would renew its directive to its state chapters to liaise with state governments in order to report back to the headquarters for discussions.

The secretary added, “We have taken a position before and it remains the same. Our state councils are advised to interface with their governments to make sure that their own salaries and arrears of pensions take priority and then report to us and we will take each case state-by-state.

“There are states that don’t owe anything; it is their money, and they know how to spend it, but if salaries and pensions are owed, then that one should take priority and our state councils are to engage with the governments and get back to us so that if it is necessary, we will then interface with those governments.

“If there are arrears of salaries or pensions or gratuities, they should prioritise the payment of such now that they have received this tranche of the Paris refund.’’

Ministry reviewing impact on salary payment

Meanwhile, the ministry of finance is currently carrying out an assessment of the impact of the release of the Paris Club loan refund on the settlement of arrears of salaries and pensions by the state governments.

Officials in the ministry confided in one of our correspondents on Sunday that the impact assessment was part of measures to ensure judicious use of the funds.

The official stated that at the end of the assessment by the ministry, a comprehensive report would be submitted to the Presidency.

The source added, “You will recall that before the funds were released to the state governments, there was an understanding that 75 per cent would be used to settle salaries and pensions.

“It was also agreed that reconciliation of the accounts and subsequent releases of the funds would be made within one year subject to the availability of cash.

“We have made two sets of releases to state governments and it is the standard practice in the ministry of finance to carry out independent monitoring of compliance with the terms and conditions of funds released.

“A comprehensive report that would show how the funds were disbursed and what the impact is on the economy of the states is being prepared for submission to the Presidency.”

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