Written by Yusuf Alli, Managing Editor, Northern Operation

 

 

Worried by accumulated salaries nationwide, President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday approved the release of N713.7billion intervention funds for states.Buhari

The bail-out was part of a three-pronged relief package that will end the workers plight.

While N413.7billion represents special intervention funds, the balance of about N250billion to N300billion is a soft loan to states.

Also, N413.7billion ($2.1billion) is sourced from the recent Liquefied Natural Gas proceeds and the remaining N300billion is a Central Bank-packaged special intervention fund.

The Debt Management Office (DMO) is expected to assist states to restructure over N660billion commercial loans crippling their economy.

With the development, President Buhari has stopped deduction of monthly allocations to states at source.

Instead, the Federal Government will “use its influence to guarantee the elongation of the loans for the benefit of the states.”

But the beneficiaries of the relief package include workers in Federal Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) who have remained unpaid for several months.

According to informed sources, the President took the decision to boost purchasing power of Nigerians, especially average and low-income earners, and to reflate the economy.

The sources said: “In his resolve to put an end to the lingering crisis of unpaid workers’ salaries in the country especially in several states of the federation, President Muhammadu Buhari has approved a comprehensive relief package designed to save the situation.

“Specifically, the President has okayed a three-pronged relief package that will end the workers plight.

These are: The sharing of about $2.1billion (N413.7billion) in fresh allocation between the states and the federal government. The money is sourced from recent LNG proceeds to the federation account, and its release okayed by the President.

* A Central Bank-packaged special intervention fund that will offer financing to the states, ranging from between N250bIllion to N300billion. This would be a soft loan available to states to access for the purposes of paying backlog of salaries.

*A debt relief program proposed by the Debt Management Office, DMO, which will help states restructure their commercial loans currently put at over N660billion, and extend the life span of such loans while reducing their debt-servicing expenditures.

When contacted the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, confirmed that indeed a special package was on the way for the workers.

He added that the President is deeply concerned about the plight of the workers who have been unpaid for many months.

During the inauguration of NEC last week, President Buhari asked the Council, which is a constitutional advisory body to him, to, as a matter of priority consider how to “liquidate the unpaid salaries of workers across the country, a situation he observed has brought untold hardship to the workers.”

“At the NEC meeting, the relief measures were extensively discussed between the state governors and top officials of the federal government including the CBN governor, and the Permanent Secretaries from Ministries of Finance and Petroleum Resources. Other agencies that were actively involved in the process include the DMO and officials from the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation.”

Media reports last month indicated that about 12 of the 36 states of the federation owed their workers about N110b

They are Osun, Rivers, Oyo, Ekiti, Kwara, Kogi, Ondo, Plateau, Benue, and Bauchi States.

However, informed sources said the Finance Ministry and the CBN may have pegged the amount needed to settle all the outstanding public workers salaries at about N250b.

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