Posted by News Express | 26 April 2017 | 2,364 times
The Bayelsa State Government has said that the non-release of the second tranche of the Paris Club refunds by the Federal Government is frustrating its plans to clear backlog of workers’ salaries and other projects.
Civil servants in the state are owed six months salary arrears in 2016 despite receiving some N99 billion allocation from the federation account in 2016.
The Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Mr. Jonathan Obuebite, said in a telephone interview on Tuesday that Bayelsa government had satisfactorily disbursed the first tranche of the refunds.
“Already, the government has taken a decision on how to expend the money. When the first one came, we used it to clear some months of salary arrears. We want to use this one for the same purpose but it has not yet come.
“As a state, we are worried that the money has yet to come.
“Already, labour leaders in the state are aware of the decision of the state government to spend that money to clear some of the salary arrears we are owing, which they hold the government in trust,” Obuebite said.
He said that Bayelsa was not among the states that allegedly diverted the first tranche of the funds, adding that the state government was given a pat on the back for its judicious spending of the former one.
He said that the delay in releasing the funds to some states could be due to the diversion orchestrated by some states.
Seven states are reportedly being investigated for the alleged diversion of the funds by anti-graft agencies.
“We are yet to know the reasons why the funds have not been released. We believe it is the Federal Government that is holding the fund for the reason best known to them. We are only recipients.
“We had wanted to use it to pay last month’s salary, but we did not know why it had not hit our account. I think it is a national issue; but if it enters, we will inform our people as we have always done, stating the amount and what accrues to the local governments.
“Let me clarify here that Bayelsa is not part of those who failed to utilise the former fund for the purpose it was given. The state was even commended for the utilisation of our own share. We are not part of the states that are being investigated.
“But the majority of the All Progressives Congress states are being investigated for the diversion of those funds.
“The governor, Seriake Dickson, told us that some states are being investigated, but Bayelsa is not part of them. Maybe that could account for the delay but it is a national thing. But for us, we have not been formally informed about the cause of the delay.
“The Senate committee that came to the state gave us a clean bill of health and urged other states to emulate us for the way the fund was administered,” the Commissioner said.
In his comment, the Chairman, Trade Union Congress, Bayelsa Mr. Tari Dounana, said information available to the congress indicated that the state had yet to receive its own share of the refunds.
“We are following up the matter with the help of our national body. The money has not been paid to the state. If it has been paid, we would have taken it up to ensure that workers are paid.
“We are still expecting the transfer to hit the state. We have also found out from our colleagues in other states and have discovered that not all the states are being paid at a time.
“It is like the Federal Government is paying the money in batches,” Dounana said.
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