Posted by Timige, On 30 Oct, 2023 | Updated On 30 Oct, 2023 No Comments »
Seven months after the federal government approved the peculiar allowance for staff on the Consolidated Public Service Structure (CONPSS), its payment is being delayed due to a lack of supplementary budget, findings by Daily Trust have shown.
CONPSS applies to all staff of federal ministries, extra-ministerial offices and agencies formerly operating the Harmonised Public Service Structure (HAPSS).
A total of 144,766 federal civil servants under the consolidated public service structure are expected to benefit from the peculiar allowance which is 40 percent of annual consolidated salary.
The government had approved the peculiar allowance with a view to cushioning the effect of the rising inflation, increase in transportation fares and electricity tariffs, on civil servants.
The approval was to take effect from January 1; while the estimated sum of N79,373,340,959.00 per annum was required to implement it.
The approval for the peculiar allowance was conveyed by the head of the National Salaries Income and Wages Commission, Ekpo Nta, in a memo addressed to the immediate past Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed.
In the memo seen by Daily Trust, Ekpo had said: “I refer to my letter no. SWC/S/04/S, 651/11/271 dated 24th of February, 2023, and the conclusions of the 11th meeting of the Presidential Committee on Salaries held on 7th of March, 2023 on the above-mentioned subject and convey approval for the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget, and National Planning to implement the peculiar allowance attached herewith for staff on the Consolidated Public Service Salary Structure.”
“This approval takes effect from 1st of January, 2023, and the estimated sum of seventy-nine billion, three hundred and seventy-three million, three hundred and forty thousand, nine hundred and fifty-nine Naira (N79,373,340,959.00) per annum required to implement it for the 144,766 staff on CONPSS will be funded from the treasury.”
Although the memo indicated that the commission would periodically monitor the implementation of the approval, findings by Daily Trust revealed that only a few agencies on the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS), including the Federal Character Commission (FCC), the Industrial Training Fund (ITF) and the Ministry of Education, were paid through the Ministry of Finance; while those on statutory transfers are yet to be paid.
The ITF is not on the IPPIS, but was said to have worked out modalities to pay the peculiar allowance, it was gathered.
The agencies yet to pay the peculiar allowance are the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), the National Judicial Council (NJC), the National Assembly Service Commission, (NASC), the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Findings at the Judicial Service Commission showed that the leadership of the Judicial Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) had reached a mutual understanding for the payment of the 40 percent peculiar allowance for all federal courts and institutions.
It was learnt that JUSUN had issued the government an ultimatum that will end tomorrow.
A circular from JUSUN’s General Secretary dated October 16, 2013 and addressed to all zonal presidents of the union, a copy of which Daily Trust obtained, said: “An approval is granted to any of the affected courts that fails to implement the 40 percent peculiar allowance at the end of October 2023 to proceed on an indefinite strike.”
Why payment is stalled
Findings indicated that the Ministry of Finance, Budget and Planning, mandated to implement the payment, lacks the wherewithal to do so due to lack of a supplementary appropriation.
Daily Trust gathered that there have been a series of correspondences between some of the affected agencies and the ministry as well as the National Salaries Commission over the matter, but these have not yielded fruitful results.
While sources in some of the agencies have blamed the delay on lack of budgetary provision and a supplementary appropriation, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) said the management of wages, including the implementation of the peculiar allowance as well as the recent N35, 000 wage increases for workers, goes beyond the issue of supplementary budgets.
At the INEC, it was gathered that the commission received government approval like the other agencies and commissions on CONPSS, but was yet to get funds for payment to beneficiaries.
A total of N10 billion is needed by the INEC to pay the peculiar allowance which was approved for staff on CONPSS by the Presidential Committee on Salaries at its 11th meeting held on March 7.
Some workers at the INEC expressed sadness that while some agencies had worked out modalities to pay the peculiar allowance, the commission had yet to do so.
A source at the commission said: “ASCSN had written a letter to the INEC Chairman dated September 4, 2023, titled: “Re: the need to implement the CONPSS 40 percent for staff of INEC”. The letter appealed to the Chairman of INEC to pay the peculiar allowance without further delay.
When contacted, the spokesman of the INEC chairman, Rotimi Oyekanmi, declined comment on the matter.
But a top official of the commission attributed the delay in payment of the peculiar allowance to lack of cash backing.
“There was no cash-backing from the appropriate authorities to effect payment of peculiar allowances or other allowances concerned. Since this was not captured in the approved and running budget of the commission, there was no way the peculiar allowance could have been paid”, said the official who asked not to be mentioned because he was not authorized to speak on the matter.
The source said that it was also difficult to determine if claims of peculiar allowances by affected workers would be treated as arrears to be paid later to concerned staff if the government eventually released monies to the affected organisations to settle the various claims.
An official at the Office of the Head of Service of the Federation (HoS) said the federal civil servants, under the CONPSS, slated to benefit from the 40 percent peculiar allowance, might have to wait till this would be provided for in supplementary national budget or reviewed due to the recent salary increment of N35, 000 minimum wage approved by President Bola Tinubu.
“Official approval does not translate to availability of funds to implement or effect the payments,” said the source who craved anonymity.
Why wage agreements are stalled—NLC
The General Secretary of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Emmanuel Ugboaja, noted that the public service sector in Nigeria currently does not have the capacity to manage wages as collective bargaining and social dialogue is low.
“There is no known procedure to operationalize wage agreements. If there was something to fall back on in terms of a process that stipulates how to raise money to implement wage agreements, the issue of a supplementary budget would not be an impediment.
“Therefore, beyond supplementary budget, there is the need for a codified procedure to fall back on. Such a codified procedure will indicate how to raise money whenever there is an agreement on a wage increase.
“Therefore, we need to get the right pillars through social dialogue and the functionality of the National Labour Advisory Council”, Ugboaja said.
The finance ministry mum
The Ministry of Finance, Budget and Planning Commission did not comment on the matter.
Stephen Kilebi, the ministry’s director of press, when contacted for a reaction, promised to make inquiries and get back to Daily Trust, but he never did as of the time of filing this report.
Source: State Lagos - Daily Trust
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