Abia govt commences distribution of bailout fund

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Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu
Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu

Abia State Government Friday commenced disbursing the N14.152 bailout fund to clear the arrears of salary owed workers in the State.

The total debt so far captured by the Committee constituted by Governor Okezie Ikpeazu to handle the disbursement of the fund as at its last week’s sitting was about N7.1 billion according to the state chairman, Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC Comrade Uchenna Obigwe.

Ministries and Parastatals so far captured by the Committee include Health Management Board, whose workers are owed seven months arrears and Abia State University Teaching Hospital, Aba, being owed about nine months arrears.

Others were Primary School Teachers owed three months, Local Government workers owed two months, Local Government Pensions said to be owed two months and MDAs whose arrears range between one to two months.

According to Obigwe, who is a member of the committee, the money for the payment of Local Government workers has been paid to the Joints Accounts Committee with instructions for the opening of a Local Government Bailout Account where the money would transferred and disbursed the workers to ensure transparency.

The NLC chairman said that workers in the sectors so far captured would begin to receive bank payment alerts from this week, and urged the workers to be patient assuring that everything was being done to ensure that the disbursement is smooth.

“So far, Local Government staff who are being owed 2 months arrears, money has been made available to the Joint Accounts Committee, JAC, with a directive to the Councils to open separate Local Government Bailout accounts where the money would be transferred to and disbursed to individual workers. The payment was for July and August.

“Primary School teachers were paid for three months, June, July and August. September has already been taken care of by normal allocation. Local Government pensioners were paid July and August.

“Health Management Board workers were paid seven months, ABSUTH workers were paid nine months while the case of parastatals on subvention such as Abia State University and Abia State Polytechnic would be discussed on Tuesday [tomorrow]”, Obigwe explained.

However, the NLC Chairman also explained that the payments were exclusion of leave allowances, promotion arrears, arrears of minimum wage, CONHESS for health workers and arrears overtime.

He further explained that the case of arrears of State Pensioners would be handled in subsequent sitting of the Bailout Committee.

“Labour is happy with Governor Okezie Ikpeazu for keeping to his words not to tamper with the bailout funds because it would have given room for friction between Labour and Government.

“Labour appreciates the transparent nature of the disbursement and will like other issues that involve workers to be handled the same manner. As the disbursement continues, we assure Abia workers the Government will not shortchange them and the leadership of Labour will not betray them.

“Labour in Abia will continue to negotiate with Government on possibility of setting aside some money monthly to address the issue of gratuity, and after the bailout appropriation on arrears of workers salary, if any money remains, the committee will look inwards to see what it can carry for gratuity”, the NLC chairman said. (Daily Times)

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