PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari has told state governments still owing staff salaries to pay up with the refund they got for overcharge on Paris Club debt servicing.
The Federal Government has approved the sum of N552.74billion to be paid to the states which are entitled to the fund and has requested such states to use the money to settle outstanding staff salaries.
According to a statement issued by Senior Special Assistant to the president on media and publicity, Garba Shehu in Abuja on Thursday, the states are expected to receive 25 percent of their approved sums in the first instance before this week ends.
Shehu recalled that the overcharge arose from deductions between 1995 and 2002 from debt owed to Paris Club.
The states had earlier complained about the excess deductions.
The statement added that the president has in a directive through the Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, said the issue of workers’ benefits, particularly salary and pensions, must not be allowed to continue, but should be handled with urgency.
The statement read: “When he assumed office last year, the president declared an emergency on unpaid salaries, following the discovery that 27 out of the 36 states had fallen behind in the payments to their workers, in some cases for up to a year.
“Following this, a bailout loan was issued to the states twice, with a first batch of about N300bn given to them in 2015 in the form of soft loans.
“The administration also got the Debt Management Office to restructure their commercial loans of over N660bn and extended the life span of the loans.
“Because this did not succeed in pulling many of the states out of distress, the Federal government this year gave out a further N90bn to 22 states as yet another bailout loans under very stringent conditions.
“President Buhari is of the opinion that the payment of salaries and pensions must be given priority to save both serving and retired workers and their families from distress.”