The Bayelsa State Governor, Mr. Seriake Dickson, yesterday, ordered release of N5.6bn out of N14.8bn Paris Club Refund he received in December for the payment of one and half months salary arrears owed workers during the economic recession in the country in 2016.
It was gathered that the governor called a meeting of top government officials, labour leaders and their representatives in Yenagoa where a decision was taken to pay one and half month out of four and half months arrears owed workers.
A statement signed by the Special Adviser to the Governor on Media Relations, Mr. Fidelis Soriwei, said that the state government received N14.8bn from the Federal Government.
The breakdown showd the state received N13.5bn while the local government councils received N1.37bn
Dickson explained further that the outstanding arrears were a balance of half salaries he paid for seven months during the recession in 2016.
The governor appreciated the workforce for displaying understanding during the trying period of the recession in 2016 which adversely affected the resources of the state.
He lamented that while most of the older states in the country had lower wage bills, Bayelsa to wage bill was over N6bn because of the criminal activities of some fraudulent characters.
The governor lamented that the wage bill remained high in spite of its low Internally Generated Revenue base which he put at N500million per month on the average.
He added further that the recurrent burden on the state became too high because individual Bayelsa civil servants earned almost twice the income of their counterparts in other states.
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.
Dickson 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 school educational system.
He said: “This January, I will not hear that any Council Chairman is not able to pay salaries. I will not also augument 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.”
The post Paris Club Refund: Dickson releases N5.6bn to pay salary arrears appeared first on The Nation Nigeria.