How civil servants defraud FG through allowances (A Must Read)

The National Salaries, Income and Wages Commission (NSIWC) said it had saved the Federal Government over N400 billion by stopping Duty Tour Allowance (DTA) fraud and other illegal allowances in public institutions.

Chairman of NSIWC, Chief Richard Egbule, who disclosed this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja, revealed how civil servants defraud Federal Government through allowances.

Egbule said many government agencies were in the habit of giving their workers allowances without getting appropriate approval.

He said: “Some board chairmen are in the habit of pushing the chief executives to pay what is not appropriate or authorised by government.

“In some of these agencies, you will find people taking salaries as well as allowances that they are not supposed to take, or taking the rate of allowances that they are not supposed to take.

“We have seen cases where they abuse the periodicity of payments. For instance, if somebody is supposed to get furniture allowance once every four years, they will instead pay the same amount every year.

“In fact, the most abused payments relates to DTA. The highest per night, which is meant for a minister is N35,000 but in some agencies, that is not even what they pay a level 8 officer.

“On their own, they will extend it even as high as N150,000 per night.

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“Also, you won’t believe that staff schools, which are the concern of universities and tertiary institutions, have also been abused.

“These universities establish primary and secondary schools, collect school fees from pupils, but place their teachers as staff of the universities that government pays.

“In fact, in many of them, teachers collect salaries as much as a professor. So, all these things we discovered and put a stop to it.”

Egbule said the law setting up the Commission does not give it power to prosecute, therefore the Commission is only able to report infractions to supervising ministries.

In addition, he said there had been instances where some anti-graft agencies had stumbled on the Commission’s report and opened investigation, thereby recovering government funds.

Meanwhile, Egbule has attributed delay in the implementation of the “Consequential Adjustment” of the N30,000 new minimum wage to the unrealistic demands of labour unions.

He explained that the current demand of the labour unions would raise the total wage bill too high and that was why government could not accept their proposed salary adjustments.

“Labour is asking for consequential adjustment and government, in its wisdom, had made budgetary provision for an adjustment of N10,000 across board for those already earning above N30,000 per month.

“However, the unions have refused this offer, saying that because the increase in minimum wage from 18,000 to N30,000 was 66 per cent, therefore they want 66 per cent increment across board.

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“We told them that the minimum wage was not raised from N18,000 to N30,000 through percentage increase, but as a result of consideration of economic factors, including ability to pay.

“However, we said that if they want consequential adjustments in percentage terms, we will use a percentage that when applied will not exceed what has been provided for in the budget.

“The computation based on percentage, which government had given to labour, was 9.5 per cent from level 7 to 14 including level 1-6 of those salary structures that did not benefit from the minimum wage.

“And then, five per cent from level 15 to 17. Labour countered the offer and proposed 30 per cent increase for level 7 to 14 and 25 per cent for level 15 to 17.

“One point we keep repeating is, it will be unfair that because you gave the person earning minimum wage N12,000, you give a level 17 officer almost N100,000 if you apply 25 per cent,” he said.

The Commission chairman said that at the last meeting between the Federal Government and the labour unions, government proposed a 10 per cent increment for level seven to 14 and a 5.5 per cent increase for level 15 to 17.

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He advised labour to come to a compromise because government had so far been magnanimous in agreeing to increase salaries without any threat of downsizing.

“Labour is currently stretching out and eating up the time that people could have used in benefiting from the adjustment because the new minimum wage was implemented since April.

“My advice is for labour to accept the terms for now and prepare to fight for the harmonization of salaries that is coming up. Harmonization of salaries will take care of this issue.

“The committee has already been formed and awaiting inauguration. I want them (labour) to know this and liberate us from this unnecessary logjam,” he said.

Egbule reiterated the Commission’s commitment to giving sound advice to government on the portion of national income that should be devoted to the payment of salaries and wages.

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