The Benue State Government has disclosed that it spends not less than N400m for payment of pension allowances and gratuity to local government and state government pensioners every month since assuming office in May 2015.
Mr. David Olofu, the state’s Commissioner for Finance and Economic Planning, disclosed this to newsmen in Makurdi, the Benue State capital on Wednesday.
According to Olofu, the current administration, led by Samuel Ortom had disbursed N200m to pensioners at various tier of government, while the balance was being used for payment of gratuity.
The commissioner also added that government was very passionate and concerned about the plight of pensioners in the state.
He further stressed that the Governor Ortom-led administration would continue with the obligation of paying the pensioners.
Mr. Olofu recalled that Governor Ortom, last year, decided to use part of the budget support fund from the Federal Government to service pensioners and consequently setup a special committee to liaise with the National Pension Commission office, Abuja to workout modality on how best to tackle the issue of pension in the state.
He said, “Because of the problems being faced by pensioners in the state, the governor has decided to approve contributory pension scheme for all retirees and intending retirees in the state. Already, a committee has been set up and very soon, the committee will complete its assignment with the roadmap.
“At the moment, the government spends between N400m and N500m monthly to settle the arrears of pensioners, from budget support fund, N400m is allocated to state and local government retirees for their pension allowance, while about N100m depending on what we get is allocated for payment of gratuities.”
He admitted that arrears owed pensioners in the state now stood at ten months, adding that major part of the arrears was inherited from the previous administration.
Olofu said, ”The government is very much worried about the outcome of the biometric screening exercise that was carried out last year October because the wage bill has continued to increased instead of decreasing even when complaints redresser mechanism was introduced with a view to putting an end to the exercise”.