FRI, JULY 24 2020-theG&BJournal– The Delta State Government Friday announced it will be reviewing downwards, the salary of political appointees and state government workers on salary grade level 7 (seven) and above for six months with effect from July 2020.
Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Mr. Chiedu Ebie disclosed this while briefing news men at the office of the State’s Head of Service in Asaba, the State capital.
The move is predicated on the ‘’debilitating” effect of COVID-19 on the national economy. The State Government also has adopted what it calls ‘’interim fiscal measures’’ to sustain public spending.
Mr. Ebie said the decision to review workers salary was reached at a consultative meeting with the organized Labour in the state.
According to the SSS, ‘’the review is painful, difficult and inevitable. It is a sacrifice that is needed to keep the state moving.’’
The State Government had earlier and amidst the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and dwindling revenue, reviewed downwards its 2020 budget by N113 billion (one hundred and thirteen billion naira). The review represents more than 28 per cent cut in the original fiscal projections for the year.
According to Ebie, ‘’the review was not a repudiation of the new minimum wage in the state but a temporary measure that would be lifted as soon as the economy improves,’’ adding that it was without any prejudice to other staff entitlements like promotion.
He said the State Government ‘’remains profoundly committed to infrastructural development as can be seen from some of the projects that are still ongoing despite the pandemic and its suffocating impact on the economy,’’ and ‘’as a responsible government, the Governor Ifeanyi Okowa led administration is firmly committed to the welfare and interest of the workforce and citizens of the state.’’
He said the State has amply demonstrated this commitment by being one of the few states in the federation to have faithfully and fully implemented the new minimum wage which became operational in November, 2019.
“Therefore, the proposed wage review is a painful and difficult decision but inevitable in our current circumstances.”
In their separate remarks, the Commissioner for Finance, Sir Fidelis Tilije and his counterpart in Information, Mr. Charles Aniagwu said the monthly savings of the state government cannot offset it’s wage bill of N7.7 billion naira monthly, emphasizing that the state has a workforce of 48,000.
The duo of Tilije and Aniagwu noted that the drop in oil production from 2.3 million barrels per day to 1.4 million and general decline in revenue had negatively affected the state economically, even as they sued for the cooperation of all in handling the situation.
The State Chairman, Trade Union Congress (TUC), Comrade Martin Bolum who spoke on behalf of Labour, said the decision was one of the ways to keep the state afloat in this period of Coronavirus pandemic.
The Head of Service, Mr. Reginald Bayoko appealed to workers to see the development as a sacrifice by accepting the decision in good faith, affirming that any money deducted would not be refunded.