By James Emejo in Abuja
The Minister of Finance, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, Tuesday disclosed that the federal government has recovered over N500 billion in personnel costs through the implementation of the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System (IPPIS).
This is as the Accountant General of the Federation (AGF), Mr. Ahmed Idris, also said the sum of N197 billion was recovered through the removal of ghost workers from the federal payroll between 2017 and 2018.
Both spoke at the opening of a retreat on the role of MDAs in the implementation of IPPIS and its effect on the worker’s condition of service and government revenue. The programme was organised by the office of the AGF.
The IPPIS scheme is one of the federal government’s reform initiatives designed to centralise payroll and payment systems, facilitate convenient staff remuneration with minimal wastage, aid manpower training and budgeting which began in 2007.
It further facilitates planning, monitors monthly payment of staff emoluments against what was provided for in the budget; ensures database integrity; facilitates easy storage; updating and retrieval of personnel records for administrative and pension processes.
Ahmed further noted that the concept of IPPIS was an integral part of the federation government’s public finance reform initiative aimed at ensuring transparency and accountability in the management of government payroll.
According to her, the reforms initiative was aimed at reducing the cost of governance, adding that currently about 70 per cent of monthly revenue inflow into the Consolidated Revenue Fund is being spent on recurrent expenditure.
She said this trend, if not corrected, would not free the much-needed resources for improving the standard of living of the people.
According to her, “Over the years, several attempts have been made to remove records of ghost workers as well as ensure personnel are paid directly to prevent the diversion of personnel emoluments as was the case prior to the implementation of the policy.
“You will all recall that the first forensic audit of the IPPIS carried out at the inception of the present administration revealed multiple deficiencies in the personnel records of MDAs.
“More instances of personnel records padding as well as unsanctioned recruitment exercised were identified.
“Available records from the Federal Ministry of Finance through the activities of the Presidential Initiative on Continuous Audit revealed a saving of over N500 billion.
“A substantial part of this amount was as a result of the continuous verification of the nominal roll and payrolls of MDAs.”
The AGF, however, explained that of the N197 billion salvaged from ghost workers, the sum of N67 billion was saved in 2017, while the balance of N130 billion was saved in the 2018 fiscal period.
He said through the implementation of the IPPIS initiative, over 700,000 government workers from 515 MDAs are now on IPPIS platform.
He also said that 39 Nigeria police commands and three formations, four paramilitary agencies and retired heads of service and permanent secretaries are also on the platform in contrast to the 285 MDAs and over 235,000 workers in 2015.
Idris said the initiative was aimed at reducing wastage in personnel cost, facilitating easy storage, updating of personnel record and aiding manpower planning and budgeting.
According to the AGF, the successes recorded so far in the scheme was due to the political will of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
He gave some of the successes of the initiative to include planning for personnel budget, reduction of ghost workers syndrome and easy retrieval of personal records.
He gave some of the challenges of the implementation of the initiative to include institutional resistance, lack of commitment from MDAs and delay in enrolment process, among others.
Also, speaking at the occasion, the Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Mrs. Winifred Oyo-Ita, said that the introduction of the IPPIS had resulted in the reduction of the ghost workers’ syndrome, enforcement of compliance with due process on employment of staff in MDAs, and prompt and timely payment of salaries.
She said: “The IPPIS was introduced by the federal government in 2007 with a view towards attaining transparency, accuracy and curtailing avoidable excesses in personnel costs.
“The payroll module has led to over N250 billion being saved through the identification of ghost workers.
“Although the payroll platform was first introduced as a result of the urgent need to curtail ghost workers’ syndrome, it should however be noted that the personnel information is the basis for pay rolling.”
She said the topic of the workshop was quite apt given the present administration’s efforts to fight corruption and curtail government wastages.