Bayelsa State Government on Thursday said that it had saved a huge amount of money totaling N3.912 billion to payroll fraudsters in its local government councils annually due to the ongoing public sector reforms in the state.
Speaking during a press conference, the Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Daniel Iworiso-Markson said the chairmen of the eight local government areas said that they were able to reduce an annual payment of N3.912 billion in salaries to the payroll fraudsters in the state from 2016 as a result of the reforms.
In their presentations, the various Local Government Councils Chairmen stressed that there has been a drastic reduction in the wage bills of the councils since the commencement of effective implementation of the ongoing reforms in the state.
Presenting what they call, ‘facts and figures’ on workers wage bill from 2016 til date, Southern Ijaw had as its wage bill of N201 million as against the current N131 million, Ogbia (N207 million-N165), Nembe (N127 million-N99 million) and Brass (N119-N101 million).
Others are, Ekeremor (N192 million-N177 million), Kolokuma/Opokuma (N109million-N77million), Sagbama (N171 million-N130 million) and Yenagoa (N194million-N147 million).
A look at the difference in the figures showed a reduction in the amount erstwhile paid as salaries to teachers and workers of the council by N3.9bn.
Speaking also during the briefing on the progress of the current reforms in the public service, Iworiso- Markson, decried the magnitude of fraud perpetrated by fraudsters in the sector.
In attendance were, the Commissioner for Labour, Employment and Productivity, Chief Collins Cocodia, his Health counterpart, Prof. Ebitimitula Etebu, Local Government Council Chairmen and the Special Adviser on Treasury, Revenue and Accounts, Mr. Timipre Seipulo.
Iworiso-Markson also described the 70% non-academic staff in the primary schools as unacceptable and stressed that an arrangement where only 30 percent of an institution were academic staff could not be productive.
The Commissioner stated further that the Governor Seriake Dickson-led administration inherited N1.3 billion local government teachers monthly wage bill, which has been reduced to about N1.027 billion in the last 2 years.
The Government’s Spokesman noted that tremendous progress had been achieved in the implementation of the ongoing reforms without which, the local government system would have experienced total collapse.
Iworiso-Markson who also briefed newsmen on the outcome of the 94th State Executive Council meeting, said henceforth, local government councils would make contributions to the State Education Development Trust Fund.
He added that the Council decided that the third tier of government would be responsible for the training of Primary Health Care workers, stressing that, chairmen are mandated to retain the number of staff they can pay.
His words: “Henceforth, the various Councils are only to retain the number of workers they can afford to pay. Since the reforms, the Councils have been doing very well and so we believe that Councils are in a better position to pay salaries of their workers.
“It was also agreed that, with effect from the next academic session, the various Councils are required to contribute to the funding of scholarship programmes such as PhD, MSC and undergraduates in their Councils and this will be under the Restoration Scholarship Scheme.”
In her comment, Commissioner for Local Government Administration, Mrs. Agatha Goma, noted that, as a result of the verification exercise, there had been consistency in the payment of primary school teachers salaries.
According to her, Council resolved that henceforth, local government workers would not be owed their salaries with the various policies put in place to ensure the smooth administration of the system.
Also speaking, the Commissioner for Education, Hon. Jonathan Obuebite disclosed that, Bayelsa has a total workforce of 15, 433 comprising academic and non-academic staff, adding that over 70% of the total population are non academic staff.