The Governor of Enugu State, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi yesterday confirmed that he inherited N32.27 billion debt comprising arrears of salaries, pensions and gratuities owed workers in the state from the administration of the immediate past Governor, Sullivan Chime.
Accountant General of the state, Mr. Pascal Okoli gave the figure at a meeting convened by the government at Government House to discuss with leaders of labour unions in the state on how to disburse the N4.2 billion bailout fund approved for the state by the federal government to pay its workers. The state is yet to be credited with the sum.
The Accountant General said that “as at June 2015, the arrears of salaries (subventions), pensions and gratuities owed by the Enugu State Government and the 17 local governments stood at N32.275,907,800.29.”
Breaking down the figure, Okoli said N13.4 billion of the debt constituted arrears of pensions, gratuities and subventions to parastatals and boards, while the balance of N18.7 billion comprised outstanding arrears owed by the local governments.
Although Governor Ugwuanyi said the development had put his administration in a difficult financial situation, he assured the workers that he would do his best to offset the debt.
He told the workers that he had followed due process in applying to access the loan, saying he would constitute a technical committee to manage the fund when it arrived.
“If we collect the money, we will let you know; it is necessary as a government that we carry you along,” the governor said. He regretted that the state was facing a huge financial problem at a time it had kick-started some capital projects.
He explained that the bailout fund approved did not cover the arrears owed by the local governments. He however assured the workers that whenever the Federal Government decided on a bailout package for the councils, his administration would deploy whatever fund received to defraying the debt owed government employees at the grassroots.
Ugwuanyi regretted that the N4.2 billion approved for the state would not do much in paying the debt owed the workers, saying the state’s employees’ “income situation is pitiable”. He wondered why people relieved of their jobs 20 years ago were yet to receive their pensions and gratuities.
(Source: Daily Sun)