In a bid to cushion the effects of subsidy removal and raise the purchasing power of the vulnerable citizens of the Enugu State, Governor Peter Mbah, on Wednesday, inaugurated the Committee on Verification and Payment of Outstanding Pensions and Gratuities to State Retirees.
The seven-man committee is chaired by the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Prof. Chidiebere Onyia, and has the Head of Service, Kenneth Ugwu; Accountant-General of the State, Mr. Anthony Okenwa; and Special Adviser to the Governor on Public Finance Management, Prof. Obiamaka Egbo as members.
Others are the State Chairman of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Comrade Ben Asogwa; State Chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Comrade Fabian Nwigbo; and the Chairman, Public Service Joint Negotiating Council, Comrade Ezekiel Omeh.
Inaugurating the committee at the Government House, Enugu, Governor Mbah said the step was in keeping with his campaign promise to clear pension and gratuity arrears, adding that the combined effects of the payments of the arrears and the normal monthly pensions and gratuities would inject billions of naira into the state’s economy on a monthly basis.
Dr. Mbah said: “In line with our campaign promise and in order to help cushion the immediate and short-term effects of the removal of subsidy, I am more than happy and it is my honour to inaugurate this Committee on Verification and Payment of Outstanding Pensions and Gratuities to State Retirees charged with the following terms of references: “determine and verify outstanding two-month pension arrears to state retirees; determine and verify the outstanding gratuities owed to state retirees; conduct all payments according to months and years of retirement of officers from service; and render monthly and quarterly reports to the Secretary to the State Government in respect of all payments”.
Continuing, he added: “We did say that our vision is to eradicate poverty in Enugu State. And we are also mindful that in order for us to achieve that, we must target polices that are designed to get to our vulnerable ones and we believe that the best way to deal with the tensions and fragilities is by making sure that we deal with the root causes of insecurity. And for us, that means that we have to ensure that there is sufficient funds being injected into the system that can cascade down and our people will have purchasing power.
“We also know that the recent policy of government removing subsidy on petroleum products will certainly have some impacts on our most vulnerable ones.
“It is therefore the state government’s policy to ensure that we put in place measures – immediate, short, medium, and long-term measures – that address the impact of the removal of fuel subsidy.
“For us in Enugu State, we believe that the best way to achieve that is to ensure that our vulnerable ones, our retirees, have access to funds to buy things and maintain a reasonable and dignifying standard of living”.
It is recalled that the state government, earlier in the week, also inaugurated a palliative committee that will be responsible for the procurement, storage and distribution of palliatives to ameliorate the impact of subsidy removal on the vulnerable members of the society.