E-Payment Delays Salaries of Public Servants in Nigeria

Computing

Federal Civil servants have been gnashing their teeth as the implementation of government's e-payment programme locked their salaries in bank vaults. An investigation by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) showed that majority of civil servants had been unable to draw their January salaries, which government paid more than one week ago.

President Umaru Yar'Adua directed last year that payments from funds of the Federal Government be made electronically. A treasury circular, Reference No TRY/A8 & B8/2008 was consequently issued on October 22, 2008, prescribing a broad guideline for the implementation of the e-payment.

Following the presidential directive, the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation held discussions with ministries, departments and agencies of government where detailed implementation plan was mapped out.

The e-payment regime covers all payments with particular emphasis to payments to contractors and consultants and to service providers like the PHCN. It also covers all payments to government workers and to other government agencies like the Federal Inland Revenue Service.

The implementation plan also prescribed that mandates to effect payment must reach the paying banks within 72 hours after approval for payment had been given by the accounting officer in each of the ministries, departments or agencies. On the contrary, however, mandates given by accounting officers of many of the government's agencies had not been effected more than one week after.

Reacting to the delay, a union affiliated to the NLC said that it held a meeting on February 3 as anxiety grew over the development. The Amalgamated Union of Public Corporations, Civil Service Technical and Recreational Services Employees (AUPCTRE), said the non-payment of the January salaries of workers gave cause for worry.

Its Secretary, David Decker, said in a statement that while AUPCTRE was not opposed to e-payment, the non-payment of January salaries had subjected workers to enormous hardship and social dislocation.

"Non-payment of January salaries days after the end of the month offend Section 15 of the Labour Act which provides periodicity of payment of wages which in the Federal Civil Service should not exceed one month," he said.

The union called on the Federal Ministry of Finance and the Accountant-General of the Federation to urgently intervene by paying the January salary without further delay.

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