By Jonathan Ugbal: Government House Correspondent
The Cross River State government has confirmed the receipt of NGN6.075 billion for the second tranche of the Paris Club refund and says it will apply it to the payment of salary, gratuity and pension arrears especially for the year 2014.
The Head of Service in the state, Mr. Ekpenyong Henshaw disclosed this Saturday morning during a press briefing where he said that the application of the funds followed Governor Ben Ayade’s directive with the ongoing payment of gratuities for the year 2013 scheduled to end next week with that of 2014 to commence immediately after that.
“Cross River State received Six Billion and Seventy-Five Million Naira (NGN6.075bn) and given (the) governor’s transparency and commitment to the welfare of workers both serving and retired; He has directed the commissioner for finance and the accountant general to apply the money so received to the following; Payment of salaries, payment of pension arrears and payment of gratuity for the year 2014,” Henshaw said.
He continued: “As you may be aware, we have commenced the payment for gratuity for 2013. That is ongoing and the accountant general has assured me that he will be rounding off with that by next week so that he can commence payment for the 2014 gratuity and this is good news for our retirees who have been waiting patiently to get their money.”
Mr. Henshaw assured workers and retirees that the payments will definitely be made as the Commissioner for Finance and the Accountant General are working assiduously to ensure Mr. Ayade’s directives are carried out effectively.
“They should be rest assured that this is going to happen because the governor holds them in high esteem and believes that they should get their duly earned gratuities,” he said adding that the payments will be for both local government and state government workers.
“(The) payment of salaries is across board to both local government and state government workers. Payment of pension’s arrears is across board. For a long time the state has been adding money to pay local government workers in spite of the allocation that comes from the federation account.
“We have been telling you that we have commenced payment for 2013 and by next week, we will round that off and once he is through with that, we will start payment for 2014, we do not want any mix up,” he said.
On the participation of Labor in the process and whether they were aware of the computation processes, Mr. Henshaw said that: “Labor themselves will be able to answer that question because they have their own committee that is going round to ensure that all the agreements we reached are being implemented. From my own end, I know that we are tending to all the issues that we agreed.”
Furthermore, when asked if measures have been put in place to ensure that Labor does not resort to industrial actions, Mr. Henshaw said that: “You can put everything in place but usually we have this communication problem, there is a gap and people can exploit that. But, speaking from my own side, I am the chairman of the joint public service negotiation council I will not allow any issue that comes before me to degenerate to the state that we were last time the industrial action was embarked upon.
“They have a team that is monitoring what we are doing. So they are not in the dark about what is happening that is why His Excellency wants this to be public so that everybody knows what is happening. Nobody who is owed gratuity will go without been paid. Everything has been programmed we are taking it phase by phase.”
CrossRiverWatch had earlier reported that the federal ministry of finance had on Tuesday issued a statement with details of payment of the second tranche of the Paris Club loan refund with the condition that at least 75 percent of the funds be applied to the payment of arrears in salaries, pension and gratuities.
The state had received N12 billion in December as the first tranche.
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