Bayelsa state governor, Douye Diri has signed the 2023 budget of N389.37 billion into law.
He also signed a bill on the state’s Contributory Pension Scheme for civil servants, local government workers, and political appointees.
The Speaker of the Assembly, Abraham Ingobere explained that state and local government workers would contribute eight percent of their salaries.
He said that the state and local government councils as their employers would contribute 10 percent on their behalf.
He disclosed that political officeholders would contribute 10 percent of their salaries.
The state and local government councils will contribute 15 percent upon their retirement or disengagement from the service.
On the 2023 Appropriation Law, Ingobere said the initial N385.21 billion presented to the assembly for consideration was increased by N4 billion.
The speaker said the increase brought the total amount to N389.37 billion for the 2023 fiscal year.
Diri said the Contributory Pension Law would end the long delay and harrowing experience retirees pass through before receiving their gratuities and other entitlements.
The governor explained that the pension scheme had to be backed by law because of its importance, which he noted would outlive his administration.
According to him, the scheme covers all employees of the state as well as political office holders both at the state and local government levels.
He noted that the scheme provided that the employer shall contribute 10 percent of their consolidated monthly salaries.
The employee shall contribute eight percent of the consolidated monthly salary as provided by the third schedule of the law.
Diri assured workers that the state government would ensure that only reputable pension fund administrators would be engaged to manage the funds.
“Upon assumption of office, we discovered that some of our elder statesmen that had served our state meritoriously over the period had died without collecting their gratuity.
”Most of them have been owed in arrears to the tune of billions of naira. I sat with my team to fashion out a way to pay off these elder statesmen.
“What we are doing is a policy of the government and we thought it needed to be backed by law. That was why we sent an Executive Bill to the House of Assembly to cater to our retirees,” he said.
He pledged that the over N28 billion arrears would be paid off within the first tenure of his administration.
“When we assumed office in February 2020, a minimum of N200 million monthly was made available for the payment of gratuities and we have been doing that faithfully. And in some months, we increased it to N500 million.
“To date, an average of N862.6 million has been expended monthly on pension. Also, N7.58 billion has been paid as gratuity and death benefits from February 2020 till date.
“However, in spite of these payments made, the huge liability of over N28 billion for outstanding gratuity and death benefits from 2007 till date still stands.
“Going forward, we will ensure that the over N28 billion owed retirees are paid off within my first term in office,” he said.