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FG pays N410bn to ex-PHCN workers

The Federal Government has so far spent N409.9billion on the payment of severance benefits to ex-workers and death benefits of the defunct Power Holding Company…

The Federal Government has so far spent N409.9billion on the payment of severance benefits to ex-workers and death benefits of the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN), the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) has said.

In a statement signed by the Bureau’s Head of Public Communications, Mrs. Amina Othman Tukur on Monday, BPE said the payment streams were categorized into two, severance payments to the former active staff of PHCN and, the payment of PHCN retirees/death benefits which PHCN could not pay before it handed over to the successor companies.

According to the statement, for active, the total number submitted to the BPE by PHCN was 47, 913 and out of the number, 47,275 representing 99 percent have been fully paid.

These were forwarded to the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation (OAGF) for payment in 36 batches, according to the statement.

BPE said out of 638 outstanding active staff, there are 167 duplicate and blank spaces on the list, 414 never turned up for verification while 25 have been audited and are awaiting cash-backing.

It added that nine with initial documentation problems will soon be audited while 23 others have documentation problems.

The statement noted that in the course of the verification, 81 cases were found to be short-paid which have been corrected and cash-backed while 180 cases recently treated and recomputed for short–payment are awaiting cash backing.

The Statement further said 4,438 PHCN retirees have been submitted to BPE in eight batches and to date, 3,131 representing, 71 percent of the beneficiaries have been fully paid their entitlements with 1,307 yet to be paid.

This is as a result of 15 of them having an error in serial numbering, 66 possible duplicates in submissions which 14 of them have been recently audited, the statement said.

The privatisation agency said 196 have been cleared and are awaiting cash-backing, while 392 others have been cleared and sent to the Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD) for pension-related benefits.

The 694 others have had their details sent to the Presidential Initiative for Continuous Auditing (PICA) for gratuities and deceased benefits.

On the two per cent union deductions, the Bureau said a total of N7.48bn has already been paid to the defunct PHCN unions account from batches 1-36 while the Bureau has already written to the Accountant General of the Federation (AGF) to credit the Unions’ Account for the remaining deductions.

On the ten per cent equity shareholding for staff of the defunct utility company, the Bureau explained that in accordance with the privatisation policy, workers of enterprises that are slated for privatisation are entitled to be allotted some percentage of the outstanding shares of the company which in the case of the PHCN, the Bureau reserved 10 per cent of the balance of 40 per cent (4 per cent) for workers of the successor companies.

It said the 10 per cent shares due to workers of the Power Companies would be allotted to them after the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) completes it assignment on the valuation of the investments done by state in the distribution companies.

The valuation would form the basis on which shares will be allotted to each state government, BPE said.