Kwara State government has explained that asking civil servants to open new salary accounts with commercial banks of their choice was not in any way intended to cripple micro finance banks in the state.
The steps taken and other measures that will be taken will help to fight the menace of ghost workers which has continued to gulp millions of public funds at the expense of development.
Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq’s Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Rafiu Ajakaye who explained the position of government on the issue said the Federal Government had also taken similar steps to clean up its payroll and restore sanity in the system.
‘We want to clarify that the decision of the government was not in any way a punitive measure targeted at anyone. We also want to clarify that this initiative was long conceived before this administration. Perhaps, the difference here is that this administration has mustered the courage to do what is right in full appreciation of the mandate of the people of Kwara State and save scarce public resources.
The government has actionable intelligence from various security agencies that the much-talked about ghost worker syndrome is deeply enabled through transactions involving some of these institutions with the collusion of some unscrupulous government functionaries. This is a cancer that continues to eat into public resources at the expense of development. The government has a duty to end the circuses, he said.
The governor’s media aide added that the decision forms a part of the effort to clean the government pay roll — a move that was according to him further necessitated by the pressure to meet workers’ demand for minimum wage and other obligations.
‘To clean the payroll, the administration has adopted some measures which include making sure that salaries are paid only through commercial banks for easy monitoring; physical head count of workers through cash payment; electronic clock-in; and biometric verification. The decision to use only commercial banks to pay salary is the first leg of these multi-pronged approaches.
We wish to clarify that this policy does not seek to kill our micro finance banks or local businesses. Workers or pensioners who wish to keep their accounts with these banks reserve the right to keep an Irrevocable Standing Payment Order (ISPO) with their commercial banks to transfer their salaries to their respective micro finance banks once the government first pays into them (commercial banks). The policy also does not hurt people in the villages where the commercial banks have no branches. Such workers can place an ISPO with their commercial banks to forward their salaries to their MFBs accounts.
The MFBs have complained that some of these workers are indebted to them and that taking their salaries away could leave them in debt. The government has allayed this fear. The government is willing to ensure that the affected workers agree to an ISPO between the banks until such debts have been fully paid. The MFBs should report any erring civil servant to the office of the HOS for appropriate sanctions. The government will set up an ombudsman office to look into such matters to prevent anyone from defrauding the MFBs.
Once again, this decision has been taken in public interest as well as to block leakages. It is not intended to hurt small businesses as some persons have insinuated. Apart from that, the government has explained all the issues to the affected MFBs while also assuring them that no worker will be allowed to default on loans already extended to them by such banks.
Also, civil servants who want to keep an account with the MFBs are free to do so — including getting their choice commercial banks to transfer their salary to the MFBs immediately the government pays their salaries in line with the new policy’, he stated.