The Governor of Bayelsa State, Honorable Henry Seriake Dickson, has authorized the release of funds from the Paris Club Debt Refund to pay one and half months salary arrears owed workers during the peak of the biting recession in the country in 2016.
The Governor had called a consultative meeting of top government officials and Labour leaders and their representatives on the Paris Club Fund received in the state in December in line with the transparency policy of the government
A statement signed by the Special Adviser to the Governor on Media Relations, Mr. Fidelis Soriwei, stated that the state government received a total of N14.8 billion from the Federal Government.
The breakdown shows the state received N13.5 billion while the local government councils received N1.37 billion.
About N5.6 billion of the Fund is being spent to defray the one and a half months salary arrears out of the four and half months owed workers in the state in 2016.
Governor Dickson explained further that the outstanding salaries arrears were a balance of half salaries he paid for seven months during the recession in 2016 which came to a total of three and a half months.
The governor appreciated the work force for displaying understanding during the biting economic recession of 2016 which affected the resources of the state in an adverse way.
According to him, while most of the older states in the country have lower wage bills, Bayelsa State’s Wage Bill was over N6 billion (State and LGAs) because of the detrimental activities of some fraudulent characters.
The Governor lamented that the state was among those highest wage bill in the country in spite of its low Internally Generated Revenue base which he put at N500,000 million per month on the average.
He added further that the recurrent burden on the state had become too high as the individual Bayelsa civil dervants earns almost twice the income of their counterparts in other states of the Federation.
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.
The Governor 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 schoo education system.
“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.”