The Minister for Finance, Budget and National Planning, Hajiya Zainab Ahmed has yesterday faulted the rumour peddled by some section of media that the Federal Government was planning to retrench some workers. Mrs Ahmed said, what the Federal Government is planning is to merge some parastatals and agencies to save the cost of governance and channel them to development. The Minister said in the meantime, the government is working out a severance package for those that would be affected by the staff rationalisation being planned as head of some agencies and parastatals would certainly lose out on appointments.
She said, “There is a special committee, led by the SGF, currently working on the review of agencies with the view to collapsing them partly, using the Oronsanye report.
“At the end of it, what we want to do is to reduce the size of government and also to reduce the size of personnel cost and part of it will be designing the exit packages that are realistic.”
Speaking to Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), the ‘Good Morning Nigeria’ programme, the minister affirmed that President Buhari will not allow Mangers of the economy to lay off staff simply to cut recurrent expenditure.
She reaffirmed that Mr president will never allow people to lose their jobs.
However, reacting to the rumour that the federal government was planning to retrench workers to save costs, the minister revealed that Mr President directed right from the beginning of his tenure that no staff will be disengaged.
The minister recall that the president insisted that staff salaries must be promptly paid on time and that is exactly what her office and other partnering offices are currently doing.
The Minister explained that her office is “trying to reduce the cost of governance by blocking leakages and subsequently, revising and reviewing the number of agencies that we have in government.
“There is an exercise that is going on. Yes, the famous Oronsanye Report has not been implemented but it is part of the major tools that we’re using in this revision process. So, there will be agencies that will be collapsed, some agencies will cease to exist.
But she assured that “Mr President has directed that there must be special attention paid to how staff will be taken care of during this process.”
The Minister said that “We do hope that at the end of the exercise, agencies will be merged and fused and it will cut down operational cost and we will be able to come up with incentive packages retrain people and redeploy them to areas where they will be useful.
However, added that “We still have a very high need for teachers so we could retrain people and send them to teach. There’s also an incentive of the exit package – that is also money. If you want people to exit you have to pay them that incentive package, so that’s why it’s taking a lot of time because it’s not easy.
She disclosed that if the federal government had the money for incentives, they would have chosen to pay off individuals to start up their new life and that would have reduced the cost of governance.
She added that the federal government was still mulling raising the Value Added Tax (VAT).
She disclosed, “We have to increase VAT at some point. We cannot continue with 7.2 per cent if we want to increase our revenue and we want to expand our expenditure to some point.
“I am not saying this year because we did not make provision for it. We didn’t make provision because there is this tension between the federal and state governments over VAT so we decided to stay away from VAT until things are clear.”