• Saturday, June 22, 2024
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Plateau saves over N500m from screening workforce, says commissioner

Plateau saves over N500m from screening workforce, says commissioner

Grace Shwarta, the commissioner for finance in Plateau State says the state has saved at least ₦500 million from screening out ghost workers from the state’s workforce.

This comes in the wake of Caleb Mutfwang’s tenure as the Plateau state governor, and in line with the state’s 7-pillar policy thrust

“This strategic realignment has borne fruit, with the ministry notching several significant achievements,” Shwarta said.

According to her, one of the standout accomplishments is the overhaul of the state’s payroll system. Through a meticulous screening exercise encompassing all employees and pensioners, the ministry has successfully sanitized the system, resulting in savings exceeding a staggering ₦500 million in the state’s wage bill.

She said the ministry tackled head-on the pressing issue of salary arrears, swiftly clearing a backlog of four months’ worth, amounting to N6.44 million.

The commissioner notes that the action has effectively halted the indefinite strike inherited from previous administrations, ensuring the uninterrupted delivery of essential services.

Shwarta who announced this in Jos at the 2024 ministerial briefing organised by the state ministry of information and communication under the leadership of Musa Ashoms, said in a bid to foster financial stability and alleviate the burden on workers, salaries and pensions are now disbursed punctually, with new pensioners seamlessly integrated into the system. Additionally, third-party deduction arrears totaling N2.5 million have been settled, alongside other inherited liabilities, ensuring prompt payment going forward.

Recognizing the vital contributions of healthcare workers, the commissioner asserted that the ministry implemented a long-awaited 75% hazard allowance, providing much-needed support and recognition for their dedication and sacrifice.

She also noted that the ministry’s commitment to education is evident in its settlement of accreditation fees for tertiary institutions and clearing of salary arrears owed to Plateau State University, demonstrating a firm resolve to uphold academic standards.

In a proactive move to cushion the impact of the removal of fuel subsidy, she said the ministry disbursed N12,000.00 each to civil servants, pensioners, and political appointees, injecting over N1,615,000,000.00 into the economy.

On socio-economic development, Shwarta informed that the ministry facilitated the provision of fertilizer palliatives worth N2,000,000,000.00 and spearheaded the procurement of Metro Buses to enhance transportation accessibility.

“The State’s payroll system has been sanitized following the screening exercise that was carried out on all the workforce and pensioners in the state. This has resulted in the savings of the total wage bill of the state by over N500 million. Inherited 4 month’s salaries arrears of workers for the month of February to May amounting to N6,437,009,754.05 (Six Billion, Four Hundred and Thirty-Seven Million, Nine Thousand, Seven Hundred and Fifty-Four Naira, Five Kobo) only have been cleared. This has resulted in the end of the inherited indefinite strike by workers who are giving their best toward effective service delivery.

“Furthermore, Salaries and Pensions are now being paid as and when due while new pensioners enjoy immediate placement on the pension payroll.

In the same vein, the Ministry under this Administration had also cleared the backlog of third-party deduction arrears in the sum of N2,873,808,679.23 (Two Million, Eight Hundred and Seventy-Three Million, Eight Hundred and Eight Thousand, Six Hundred and Seven-Nine Naira, Twenty-Three Kobo) only as well as some inherited liabilities. All third-party deductions are now being paid promptly.

“The long-awaited 75% hazard allowance for Health Workers in the State has been implemented by the Ministry and payments are effected along with arrears. Accreditation fees for all tertiary institutions in the state have been paid as well as the backlog of salary arrears owed to Plateau State University.

In a bit to resuscitate the Civil Service for effective service delivery, the Ministry has re-instated the payment of overhead allowances to all Ministries Department and Agencies of the state. This has spurred the MDAs for better and improved productivity.

“To alleviate the plight of the masses arising from the removal of fuel subsidy, the Ministry has complied with His Excellency’s approval to pay N12,000.00 each to all Civil Servants, Pensioners and Political Appointees commencing from September 2023 to February 2024. So far over N1,615,000,000.00 (One Billion, Six Hundred and Fifteen Million Naira) only has been paid for the months of September, November, December, January, February and March.

In the same vein, the Ministry has keyed into the Federal Government initiative to provide Fertilizer palliative to the populace worth N2,000,000,000.00 (Two Billion Naira) by implementing the payment of counterpart funding necessary for the actualization of this project in Plateau State.

“The Ministry has also released the total sum of N1,534,719,450.00 (One Billion, Five Hundred and Thirty-Four Million, Seven Hundred and Nineteen Thousand, Four Hundred and Fifty Thousand Naira) only for the procurement of Metro Buses as Transportation Palliative to cushion the effect of the removal of fuel subsidy on its citizens. It is worthy of note that amongst the 36 States of the Federation, only Plateau State had released the breakdown of how they spent the Palliative Funds received from the Federal Government in accordance with the Freedom of Information”; She said.

She added added that the ministry championed the cause of low-income workers, doubling the remuneration of cleaners from N8,000.00 to N16,000.00 per month, thereby fostering improved productivity and livelihoods.

In line with the governor’s vision to honor retirees’ contributions, the commissioner noted that the ministry revised monthly pension rates, providing substantial increases and initiating the clearance of pension arrears dating back to 1986.

According to her, “the ministry fostered collaborations with federal agencies to enhance fiscal policies, hosting officials from the Revenue Mobilization, Allocation, and Fiscal Commission, and facilitating training sessions to bolster revenue generation and expenditure management.

“In a groundbreaking achievement, the ministry’s partnership with Reigns Management Consultant Ltd. propelled Plateau State to third place in performance on key World Bank projects, securing a grant exceeding $34,360,595.71 for developmental initiatives.

“Additionally, the ministry embraced technological advancements by implementing solar power energy and adopting electronic procurement systems, ensuring efficiency, transparency, and sustainable debt management practices.

“With a steadfast commitment to prudent financial management and inclusive governance, we will continue to spearhead transformative initiatives, laying the foundation for sustained growth and prosperity across the state”; she added.