BAYELSA GOVT RE-STRATEGIZE TO MEET FINANCIAL OBLIGATIONS
.....DICKSON ASSURES ON COMPLETION OF PROJECTS
Bayelsa State Government says it is reworking its financial management strategies to cushion the adverse effects of the shortfalls in federal revenue allocations to the State, due to dwindling oil prices at the international market.
Governor Seriake Dickson, who stated this during a live radio and television interview in Yenagoa on Thursday, noted that more prudent measures would be taken to enable the government continually meet its salary and contractual obligations to workers and contractors.
The governor expressed determination to remain focused on implementing the restoration agenda of the administration, assuring that, the government was poised to complete most of the ongoing infrastructural projects, including the state cargo airport on or before next year.
Emphasising the need for accountability in governance, he explained that, but for his administration's prudence, Bayelsa would not have been ranked among the few states that are not owing workers salaries.
Contrary to reports, Governor Dickson maintained that, the state government is also on a clear standing in terms of payment of pensions to retirees, pointing out that "the only issue there, is that of gratuity, which has lingered for close to ten years that we are trying to solve."
The governor, who expressed concern over unpaid salaries of local council workers in the state, described the situation as unacceptable, even as he stressed the need for governments at all levels to prioritise the payment of salaries in the face of the current harsh economic realities.
According to him, the government is awaiting recommendations that would emanate from the state House of Assembly’s investigation into the development to be able to appropriately address the issue.
Reaffirming his belief in the autonomy of local governments, Governor Dickson maintained that, his administration would not interfere in the affairs of councils beyond the issuance of general guidelines to enable them deliver at the grassroots level.
His words: " The House of Assembly is well within its powers to examine reasons that occasioned that undesirable situation. But, I don't want to prejudge the ongoing investigation by the Assembly. I'm also aware that revenue that accrues to councils have drastically reduced because of the shortfall. But all the same, our expectation is that priority attention should be given to payment of salaries of council workers especially in the new Bayelsa, where we have not deducted and will not deduct any money from local government coffers
"I await the recommendations the Assembly may make at the end of their enquiries and findings on the issue. But from the preliminary reports I have received so far, there is the possibility of our resorting to one measure or the other to support local government councils specifically in the area of clearing their backlog of salaries.
"We have a very difficult situation we are managing at the state level,but I find it unacceptable that any worker in the state public service should, after working for 30 days leaving their families, go home without salary. On that score, by the time I receive the report of the House of Assembly, I will meet with my team to explore ways of supporting the councils for the sake of the workers.