The Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, has said her ministry is working with the National Pension Commission to recover the pensions so far paid into the Retirement Savings Accounts of ghost workers.
She said since the establishment of the Presidential Initiative on Continuous Audit in March last year, about 53,000 ghost workers had so far been removed from the Federal Government payroll.
The minister gave the figure in her first Facebook video session, which was monitored by our correspondent.
The 23-minute video was filmed at the headquarters of the Ministry of Finance in Abuja.
Adeosun stated, “The Presidential Initiative on Continuous Audit came in so that they can check the payroll and make sure that we pay the right amount and ghost workers do not exist; there is no fraud and that there is no error in the payroll.
“So far, we have removed 53,000 people from the payroll and we are working with PenCom to recover some of the pensions because the problem with these ghost salary earners is that not only are we paying their salaries, we are also paying pensions.
“So, we are trying to recover some of the overpaid pensions from some of the people we have removed from the payroll.”
Adeosun said before the commencement of the continuous audit initiative, the wage bill of the government was huge, standing at about N165bn monthly.
In addition, she said the government was spending N16bn each on pensions and overheads monthly, noting that when added to the N165bn wage bill, about N200bn was being expended monthly on recurrent items.
She stated, “The wage bill when we started was N165bn a month, and that was huge. It’s a huge bill and we have N16bn for pensions and another one for overheads.
“And so by the time you add statutory transfers to agencies like the judiciary, the National Assembly, INEC and other statutory agencies, you will have N200bn every month before you can have anything to spend on capital projects.
“So, we set a priority that we need to control this. It’s a continuous battle and the real thing is that we are using technology to make sure we are paying people using the biometric system, which ensures that you cannot get two salaries and ensures that the number of personnel is the same as the number on the payroll.”
The minister added that the focus of the government going forward was to bring all its agencies into the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System platform.
This, she added, would assist the government to further bring down the wage bill.
The IPPIS is one of the Federal Government’s reform initiatives to improve the management of human resources and provide a centralised payroll system in the civil service.
Adeosun added, “Our focus now is getting as many agencies and individuals as possible on the IPPIS and that sounds a quite ambitious target. The moment we finish with the police, we will move on to the military and then the prisons and immigration and other agencies like that.”