The Presidency is set to cut the civil service salaries in the country, which prior to this time stood at over N165 billion.
Speaking at at a meeting with Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN) on Thursday in Lagos, the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, said that the N165 billion civil service salaries paid to Federal Government workers per month was over-inflated and was no longer sustainable by the government.
The Minister talking about the economy reform agenda of the government, during the NPAN meeting which was hosted by her counterpart in the Ministry of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, divulged that N165 billion monthly civil service salaries of federal civil servants stood for 40 percent of the total amount of money spent by the federal government.
According to her, the figure is too high and as a result, the government is taking aggressive steps towards detecting and prosecuting ghost workers and other saboteurs in the system.
“We spend 165 billion every month on salaries and when I came in there was no checking. Now, we have created a unit assigned with the sole responsibility of checking the civil service salaries and catching those behind the over bloated salaries”.
Adeosun faulted the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) introduced by the former government, saying it was sabotaged by the element benefiting from the salary fraud, adding that the discovery of about 40,000 ghost workers on the government’s payroll through the Bank Verification Number and the IPPIS was a result of efforts to eliminate waste.
She disclosed that “the government will prosecute all those involved in this scam”, and went further to say that one of the culprits was discovered to have multiple identities and was operating about 200 accounts to draw money from the government each month.
“This is the kind of loopholes we are talking about. People were just paying salaries, no control. We are putting a check on the system and we even now have a unit at the ministry to monitor salaries alone.”
The Finance Minister also made it known that efforts were being made to ensure that all monies spent by the government were justified at all times. The News Agency of Nigeria quoted the minister as saying:
“What this government is doing is to ensure that every kobo we are spending is for the good of the people and is accounted for. We are moving away from the past when there was so much waste and people were just spending without really accounting for it.
“Whatever fund we are releasing now, we are asking questions on what it is used for. And we are doing that across the Ministries, Departments and Agencies. We believe that no nation attains development with so much profligacy, and that is why we are taking a number of steps to ensure that the country’s money actually goes to the people”.
Mrs. Kemi Adeosun revealed that the fiscal focus of the present government was to ensure an economic growth that would be measured on job creation and productive sectors. According to her, “We have been borrowing to pay salaries for years and that has to stop because it is not sustainable. Last year, we spent N64 billion on travelling and only N90 billion on roads. Travelling does not grow the economy and this must also stop.”