James Sowole in Akure
Ondo State Government yesterday said it has been borrowing in form of overdraft to augment allocation from the Federation Account to pay workers’ salaries and pensions.
The state Head of Service (HoS), Mr. Dare Aragbaye, disclosed this at a news conference he addressed, where he briefed labour leaders on the state of the state finances.
Aragbaye, who was supported by the state Accountant General, Mr. Olaolu Akindolie, disclosed that as at April 2020, the state was indebted to commercial banks to the tune of N3.46 billion on salary related issues
Aragbaye’s clarification came against complaints by workers that the state government had been withholding their cooperatives and other deductions.
The workers said the withheld deductions formed bulk of the workers’ salaries which many of them depended upon to undertake personal capital projects.
The state Chairman of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Sunday Adeleye; the state Chairman of Trade Union Congress (TUC), Mrs. Helen Odofin, and Joint Negotiation Council (JNC) Chairman, Mr. Niyi Fabunmi, told the HoS that their members had been on their neck over delay in remittance of deductions.
Addressing the workers and journalists, Aragbaye said the delay in the remittance of deductions was caused by the dwindling resources.
He stated: “Deductions are not withheld unjustly. They are paid in arrears based on the monthly allocations received by the state which is grossly inadequate to meet the wage bill of the state.
“A total sum of N4.20billion was received as allocation for the month of April 2020 while the wage bill amounted to N4.72billion.
“It therefore means that two months allocation would be required to conveniently pay one month salaries. Therefore, the state, in its wisdom, has decided to pay net salaries and then wait for funds to accumulate before paying/remitting the deductions. This has been the trend.”
The HoS promised that the state government would prioritise the payment of deductions within the next few weeks.
Aragbaye debunked the insinuation that the state government had been paying half salary, stating that Ondo remains one of the few states that pay salaries along with pensions on a monthly basis.
He further expressed the hope that the over N7 billion being expected as refund for federal government projects executed would serve as relief for the state once released