The Bayelsa State Government has inaugurated a committee to work out modalities to computerise the payment of salaries of local government council workers.
A statement by the Media Aide to the Deputy Governor, Mr Doubara Atasi, explained that the Committee was constituted on Wednesday, June 10, during a meeting in Government House, Yenagoa.
The committee is headed by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Local Government Administration, Mrs Ebiere Igodo-Adeh, while a representative of the state chapter of National Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) will serve as its Secretary.
The membership of the committee include the Technical Adviser to the Governor on Revenues and Accounts, Mr Timipre Seipulou, the eight council chairmen, a representative each from the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC),Trade Union Congress (TUC), as well as Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria.
It also has representatives from the Governor’s Office, the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), Non Academic Staff Union (NASU), Local Government Service Commission and the Forum of Local Government Principal Officers.
The Deputy Governor, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, noted that the decision to computerise the local government payroll system in the state was informed by the need to streamline payment methods and check fraudulent practices.
According to him, government has discovered a lot of disparities and inconsistencies in the method of payment currently being used as well as fake grade and step levels in the system.
Senator Ewhrudjakpo expressed the hope that, when implemented, the computerized payroll system would help to free up funds to enable the councils embark on development projects.
He charged the committee to identify the software to be adopted and “work out modalities for the integration and cross-matching of the software being used in the state government payroll system”.
The committee, which has six weeks to submit its report, was also asked to determine the cost and when to implement the new system of paying local government workers.
Senator Ewhrudjakpo advised all council workers to cross-check their grade levels and steps shortlisted by the Committee on Review of Grade Levels and Steps of Local Government Workers and approach it in case of any complaints.
He also directed the Committee to remove from councils’ payment vouchers, names of academic and non academic staff of primary schools that were not identified by their head teachers.
He said: “We have done some studies and discovered that it has become inevitable that we have to computerise the payroll system of the local government.
“Local government payroll system is fraught with a lot of fraud that can only be traced through a computerised system.
“There are double dealings where the voucher presented to the Ministry of Local Government is different from the voucher used for payment. The ongoing exercise and new system will fish out those enriching themselves through fraud, and also free some money for development”.
In their separate submissions, all the council chairmen and labour union leaders including NLC and TUC, declared support for the computerization policy, stressing that it would engender transparency and reduce the wage bills of the various councils.
The labour leaders commended the worker-friendly disposition of the prosperity government, which they noted was responsible for the prevailing industrial harmony in the state.
On his part, the Technical Adviser to the Governor on Revenues and Accounts, Mr Timipre Seipulou, explained that the new system would also make provision for dealing with absenteeism and other sharp practices.
Seipulou, however, assured workers that the grade level regularization exercise was not meant to witch-hunt anyone but intended to promote fairness, equity and efficiency in the public service.