By Ede Ogaba Ede
Determined to offset the backclog of salaries owed workers in the state, the Benue State government has decided to exceed the threshold given by the federal government for states to pay their workers from the Paris club refunds released last week.
Whereas the federal government has directed states to use at least 50% of the money to offset workers’ salaries and pension, the Benue state government is committing 80% of the total money to the same purpose.
Acting Governor, Engr Benson Abounu told journalists at the end of a joint Government/Labour meeting at the Benue Peoples House, Makurdi that the government is going to do all within its powers to clear the backlog of salaries.
He explained that the government is considering various options and is presently discussing with some financial institutions and seeking the approval of the federal ministry of Finance and the Debt Management Office (DMO).
Engr Abounu assured workers that as soon as modalities for the payment are worked out, they will start receiving their money.
Speaking, State chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Comrade Godwin Anya who expressed disappointment with the paltry amount from the Paris Club refund restated labour demand on government to source for money elsewhere to add to the statutory allocation so as to offset the huge arrears of workers salaries.
The meeting which was attended by labour leaders and delegates of the various labour unions in the state looked at the money that came to the state from the Paris Club refunds and how to apply it in line with the directives of the federal government.
It could be recalled that the federal governmet last week released the second tranche of the Paris club refunds. However instead of the expected 25% or N 13.7bn, Benue state got only N6.8bn.