Kwara labour unions cry to FG for quick release of Paris club refund

Leaders of labour unions in Kwara State have appealed to the Federal Government to hasten release of second tranche of Paris Club loan refunds to states to settle salary arrears.

The union leaders, made the appeal on Friday speaking after the meeting of the Kwara State Joint Accounts Allocation Committee (JAAC) in Ilorin. The union leaders said the release of the funds would assist local councils in the state to offset part of the outstanding salary arrears of their workers.

According to the State Chairman of the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), Comrade Musa Abubakar, who is also Vice Chairman of the State Chapter of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), the Paris club refund would go a long way in ameliorating hardship of local government workers and basic education teachers who he said were owed varying degrees of salary arrears.

He called on the state government to ensure that a substantial part of the Paris Club refund, when received, was used for payment of LG staff salary arrears.

The Deputy President of the State Chapter of Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE), Comrade Oloruntade Ibikunle, also appealed to the state government to take over the funding of basic education as a way of reducing the financial burden on the LGs.

Also speaking, the State Commissioner for Finance, Alhaji Demola Banu, said that the state government would inform the public whenever it received the Paris Club refund and assured that the government would use the fund to clear part of the outstanding salary arrears at the LG.

Speaking on the April federal allocation to the 16 LGs in the State, the Commissioner said the councils got a gross statutory allocation of N1, 071, 999, 329.90, Value Added Tax (VAT) of N425, 294, 976.45, excess Petroleum Profit Tax (PPT) of N80, 116, 025.82 and Exchange Difference of 245, 081, 267.72.

Banu revealed that the sum of N280, 045, 355 was deducted at source as repayment for the N4.820billion loan facility the councils obtained in 2015 to pay salaries. He listed other deductions from the allocation to include funds for traditional council, bank charges, waste management, ALGON dues, LG pension board and LG Commission running cost.

Following the deductions, Banu said that the total amount distributable among the LGs stood at N448million, which is inclusive of 10 per cent of the State government’s Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) distributable for the month, representing N52, 180, 749.39.

He stated that the sum of N900m was appropriated for the payment of Basic Education (SUBEB) teachers’ salary while the sum of N130, 208, 234.25 was allocated for LG pensioners’ entitlements.

The Commissioner, however, disclosed that the State was yet to receive its allocation for the month of April from the FG. He explained that it always take about a week after the Federal Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC) meeting before states start receiving their allocation.

Banu also emphasized that the State government does not owe any of its workers and retirees, noting that the issue of unpaid salary arrears only affects LGs in the State, which he said was caused by reduction in their federal allocations.

He added that the local councils owe their workers varying degrees of salary arrears depending on the number of staff, federal allocation and IGR of each of the councils. According to him, about N580m is required to cater for LG employees’ monthly salary, N1.114b for SUBEB staff salary and N355m for LG pensioners’ monthly entitlements.