|Governor Okezie Ikpeazu|
By Onyebuchi Ememanka
Contrary to popular expectations, Abia State received the sum of Five Billion, Seven Hundred and Fifteen Million Naira in the second tranche of the Paris Club refunds from the Federal Government.
Commissioner of Finance, Mr. Obinna Oriaku broke this news this evening after a long meeting with labor leaders in the state.
According to Mr. Oriaku, this huge shortfall will definitely impact negatively on the plans of the state government to clear all outstanding salary arrears as promised by the Governor.
He said that the original plan was for the state to receive between 12 and 13 Billion Naira which the Governor had ordered should be exclusively committed to the clearing of outstanding salaries but the Federal Government could not meet up with the original plan.
He assured that labor leaders have been informed of this development and even with the shortfall, Governor Ikpeazu has still instructed that the funds be committed wholly to salary arrears.
He said that the same committee of government officials and labor leaders that shared the last tranche of funds will also share this, assuring that those areas where needs are more critical will get more attention.
The Commissioner said that MDAs are only owed one month salary while there are some agencies that are owed much more than that, and that such agencies will naturally get attention. He said the committee will meet tomorrow to commence modalities for the sharing of the funds and still assured that the July 31, 2017 date remains feasible to get what is available.
He however assured that with or without the bailout, the state government remains committed to improving the economy of the state to ensure steady payment of salaries.
State NLC Chairman, Comrade Obigwe expressed concern with this development since workers and pensioners in the state were full of expectations about their arrears. He said that they have confirmed from their colleagues from other states about the shortfall and assured of the cooperation of labor to ensure that what is available is applied to areas of critical need.
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