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Business News of Thursday, 26 October 2023


N5.5tn payroll: FG stops workers’ salaries not on IPPIS

Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Dr Folasade Yemi-Esan Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Dr Folasade Yemi-Esan

The Federal Government will on Friday stop the salaries of any public officer whose records cannot be verified on the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System.

This was made known in a statement signed by the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Dr. Folasade Yemi-Esan, and made available to journalists by her Director of Communications, Mohammed Ahmed, on Wednesday.

The PUNCH had exclusively reported that an extension was given to workers to verify their details after which their October 2023 salaries would be seized.

According to the statement, a two-week verification, which would end on Friday, was put in place as an act of magnanimity for officers who did not participate in the earlier verifications.

The statement said, “Adequate arrangements were put in place for a smooth exercise in designated areas of the FCT, however, the officers’ impatience and lack of orderliness in the first two days made the exercise rowdy. This has been duly addressed and the two-week exercise, scheduled to end on Friday, October 27, 2023, is progressing very well.

“The verification of records of all civil servants will be finalised at the end of the ongoing exercise and any officer whose record could not be verified will be delisted from the payroll of government.”

It recalled that in 2013, the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, being the repository of official records and information on all public servants, was saddled with the responsibility of cleansing the record on the payroll.

Leveraging technology, the statement added that the office opened a verification portal in April 2017 and directed all public servants to carry out online updates of their records.

The office, it added, carried out aggressive sensitisation and publicity via official, conventional, and social media.

According to the statement, an initial period of three months was given for compliance, which was extended to one year, May 2018, to enable all officers to update their records.

The statement added, “Sequel to another wide publicity accompanied by numerous pre-verification sensitisation visits by IPPIS staff to ministries, extra-ministerial Departments, and Agencies nationwide, the second phase of the exercise, the physical verification, commenced in 2018.

“In this regard, 500 staff from the OHCSF were trained and deployed, in well-communicated and coordinated phases, to the 36 states of the federation and the FCT between 2018 and 2019 to enable officers to carry out the physical verification in their states and save them to from travelling to Abuja.”

The statement maintained that some erring officers’ pleas to be given the last opportunity to comply were granted, adding that the portal was, therefore, reopened from October 3 to13, 2023, for them to update their records, and now till Friday, October 27, 2023, before action would be taken on defaulters.

Rise in government workers

The PUNCH observed that the number of workers on the Federal Government’s payroll rose from 1.14 million in June 2020 to 1.5 million in August, showing an increase of 360,000 workers in about three years.

Data obtained from the website of the IPPIS website showed that there were 696 MDAs and 1.14 million workers in 2020.

The website page read, “There are 696 MDAS on IPPIS Platform as at June, 2020. The department is responsible for processing and payment of salary to over one million (1,139,633) Federal Government employees across the 696 MDAs.

“IPPIS’ aim is to enrol into the platform, all Federal Government MDAs that draw personnel cost fund from the Consolidated Revenue Fund. Since inception of the IPPIS project in April 2007, the department have saved the Federal Government of Nigeria billions of naira by eliminating thousands of ghost workers.”

In August 2023, the Director-General of the Budget Office of the Federation, Ben Akabueze, revealed that the Federal Government’s personnel cost was over N5tn, with 1.5 million workers on its payroll.

This increase occurred despite the identification of about 70,000 ghost workers in June 2022.

The Federal Government-backed Integration Personnel and Payroll Information System exposed and eliminated about 70,000 ghost workers in the civil service system, the Director-General, Bureau of Public Service Reforms, Dr. Dasuki Arabi, said.

He said the government had saved at least N220bn via IPPIS.

The DG also said IPPIS had led to the reduction of the Federal Civil Service personnel to 720,000.

Arabi said, “With the introduction of IPPIS, about 70,000 ghost workers have been eliminated from the payroll. We have a one-shot opportunity to look at IPPIS and say, as of today, we have 720,000 public servants working for Nigeria.

“We’ve been able to reduce more than N220bn wastage through wrong management of IPPIS on payroll by ministries, departments and agencies of government. We have reduced the budget deficits and changed the budget composition.”

The PUNCH also learnt that in July 2021, the Federal Government suspended the salaries of 300 workers across various MDAs in the federal civil service over their failure to update their records on the IPPIS.

By July 2022, it was reported that 61,446 civil servants from various MDAs had been verified on the IPPIS, while 3,657 civil servants were reported to the Independent and Corrupt Practices and Related Offenses Commission for prosecution over failure to get verified on the platform.

Personnel costs

Personnel costs were expected to gulp about N14.87tn in three years, according to data obtained from the Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper 2024-2026.

The amount budgeted for personnel costs also increased from N4.34tn spent in 2022 to N5.51tn in the proposed 2024 budget.

This showed an increase of N1.17tn or 26.96 per cent in three years, signalling a slight rise in the cost of paying salaries.

Experts and organisations have warned that the Federal Government’s personnel cost was rising at a fast pace.

According to them, this was disturbing, as the country still wallowed in increasing debts and lagged behind in the area of infrastructure.

In May 2021, the Federal Government, through the former Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, had said that it was working to reduce the high cost of governance by doing away with unnecessary expenditures, which may include salary cuts for workers.

The PUNCH earlier reported that the Federal Government planned to spend 61.63 per cent of its planned 2024 expenses on personnel and debt service costs.

The personnel and pension costs of N7.78tn (as earlier claimed by the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Abubakar Bagudu, but not in line with what was contained in the MTEF/FSP 2024-2026) and the debt service cost of N8.25tn made up N16.03tn out of the N26.01tn 2024 budget.

The PUNCH also observed that the government would spend more on debt servicing than it would spend on paying the salaries and pensions of its workers.

In the MTEF/FSP 2024-2026, the Federal Government blamed its projected N9.05tn budget deficit on the proposed salary review of federal employees and increased pension obligations, among others.

The document read, “The budget deficit is projected to be N9.05tn in 2024, down from N11.60tn budgeted in 2023. This represents about 53 per cent of total FGN revenues and 3.83 per cent of the estimated GDP.

“The high projected level of fiscal deficit in 2024 is partly attributable to the proposed salary review of Federal workers across board, increased pension obligations resulting from payments into the redemption fund, pension protection fund, an increase in pensions in line with the new minimum wage, and higher debt service cost.”