…As FG disburses N43.416bn to 24 states under World Bank assisted programme***
Disruption of industrial peace now looms in Kaduna as the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Kaduna Council, has rejected deduction of 25 per cent of civil servants’ salaries in the state by the Malam Nasir El-Rufai administration.
Chairman of the council, Mr Ayuba Sulaiman, rejected the deductions at a news conference in Kaduna on Wednesday, issuing threats of seeking legitimate redress.
Sulaiman said, “Sequel to the deductions of 25 per cent of the salaries of all civil servants in Kaduna state, effective from April 2020, labour in Kaduna State unequivocally rejects the deduction”, he stated, stressing that the union was neither consulted on the issue nor gave its consent to the state government’s decision, to make the deductions.
“Article 8 of the International Labour Organisation Protection of Wages Convention, 1949, (No.95) provides that deduction from wages shall be permitted only under conditions and to the extent prescribed by the National Laws or regulations or fixed by collective agreement or arbitration award.
“Also, Section 5(1) of the Labour Act Cap l.1 laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 provides thus:
“Except where it is expressly permitted by this act or any agreement or contract with a worker for any deductions or wages to be paid by the employer to the worker or any payment to the employer by the worker for or in respect of any fines provided that with the prior consent in writing of an authorised labour officer a reasonable deduction may be made in respect of injury or loss caused to the employer by the willful misconduct or neglect of the worker,” he cited.
The chairman observed that the labour union in the state was not against the provision of palliatives to the poor to cushion the effect of the COVID-19 lockdown from the salaries of civil servants in the state.
“But I wish to state that the union ought to be carried along, and such deductions or contributions should be made voluntarily not compulsorily.
“As a responsible working group, which is conscious of the predicament of the average citizens of Kaduna state, we are disposed to committing much higher for the well-being of the less privileged if the need be and if proper process is followed.
“In view of the above, labour in Kaduna state calls on the Kaduna state government to stop the 25 per cent deductions henceforth and should return the 25 per cent deductions from salaries of the workers.
“Failure to comply with the above will leave the labour in the state with no option but to explore other possible avenues within the purview of the law,” Sulaiman said.
In the meantime, the Federal Government has disbursed N43.416 billion as performance-based grants to 24 eligible states on the basis of the results achieved in 2018.
Mr. Hassan Dodo, the Director of Press and Public Relations in the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning made this known in a statement issued in Abuja on Wednesday.
Dodo said the Minister of Finance, Mrs Zainab Ahmed said the fund was under the performance-based grant component of the World Bank-Assisted States Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability (SFTAS) Programme-for-Results.
Ahmed explained that the project was wholly-financed with a loan amount of 750 million dollars from the International Development Association (IDA), a member of the World Bank Group.
She said that the disbursement followed the participation of the 24 eligible States in the recent Annual Performance Assessment (APA) carried out by the Office of the Auditor-General for the Federation (OAuGF).
OAuGF is an Independent Verification Agent (IVA) in collaboration with a third-party firm, JK Consulting Limited and the SFTAS Programme Coordination Unit (PCU).
The minister explained that the SFTAS Programme was established by Federal Government with the concessional loan of 750 million dollars to support States through the provision of performance-based grants to States to the tune of 700 million dollars.
She said the programme also included the technical assistance in the sum of 50 million dollars to enhance their capacity to achieve the Disbursement Linked Indicators (DLIs).
“The DLIs are derived from the country’s 22-Point Fiscal Sustainability Plan and the 14 Open Government Partnership (OGP) commitments aimed at strengthening fiscal transparency, accountability and sustainability across all States of the Federation.
“The Eligibility Criteria (EC) that States have to meet in order to qualify to receive any grants include the online publication of the approved annual budget and audited financial statement for the previous year.
“And the DLIs that eligible States receive grants for achieving improved financial reporting and budget reliability; increased openness and citizens’ engagement in the budget process; improved cash management and reduced revenue leakages through the implementation of State Treasury Single Account (TSA).
“Also strengthening Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) collection; biometric registration and Bank Verification Number (BVN) used to reduce payroll fraud.
“Others are improved procurement practices for increased transparency and value for money; strengthened public debt management and fiscal responsibility framework; improved clearance and reduction of the stock of domestic expenditure arrears and improved debt sustainability” she explained.
Ahmed disclosed that the 24 beneficiary States that met the eligibility criteria were Abia, Adamawa, Bauchi, Benue, Delta, Edo, Ekiti, Enugu, Gombe, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Kogi, Kwara, Niger, Ondo, Ogun, Oyo, Osun, Sokoto, Taraba and Yobe States.