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BPE: FG pays N409.9bn to ex-PHCN workers

  • Invalid account details, wrong RSA delay payment

The Federal Government has paid the sum of N409.9 billion as severance package and  death benefits to ex-workers of the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN), the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) has said.

 

BPE explained, yesterday, that the payment cov-ered the total number submitted to it by PHCN, which it put at 47,913. Of the number, 47,275, representing 99 per cent, were fully paid by it.

 

The privatisation agency also disclosed that after seven years, some of the ex-workers and pensioners/ next of kin were having difficulties accessing their entitlements when their payments were cashbacked due to invalid account details and wrong Retirement Savings Account  RSA) amongst others.

 

According to a statement issued by Head, Corporate Communications, BPE, Amina Tukur Othman, the payments were categorized into two: severance payments to former active staff of PHCN, and payment of PHCN retirees/death benefits, which PHCN could not pay before it handed over to successor companies. BPE said all payment approvals were forwarded to the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation (OAGF) in 36 batches.

 

It added that out of 638 outstanding active staff, there were 167 duplicate and blank spaces on the list, 414 never turned up for verification, 25 audited and awaiting cash-backing, nine with initial documentation problems, who are to be audited soon and 23 with documentation problems.

 

The agency 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.

 

BPE said some of the ex-workers and pensioners/ NOKs had been having difficulties accessing their entitlements since 2013 when their payments were cash-backed due to invalid account details. It said 4,438 PHCN retirees/ NOKs names have been submitted to BPE in eight batches and to date, 3,131, representing, 71 per cent 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 error in serial numbering, 66 possible duplicates in submissions, which 14 of them have been recently audited; and 196 cleared and awaiting cashbacking, 392 cleared and sent to the Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD) for pension related benefits and 694 to the Presidential Initiative for Continuous Auditing (PICA) for gratuities and deceased benefits,” it said.

 

On the two per cent union deductions, BPE said a total of N7.48 billion had already been paid to the defunct PHCN unions’ account from batches one to 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 10 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 for workers of the successor companies.

 

On equity stake reserved for employees, a key provision of Privatisation Act, BPE explained that 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 states in the distribution companies.

 

“The valuation would form the basis on which shares will be allotted to each state government,” it clarified.

 

On non-computation of 16-month entitlements of staff of the defunct PHCN, BPE explained that during one of the engagements with the unions on January 13, 2014 at the Federal Ministry of Power, it was agreed that “7.5 per cent employer pension contribution of July, 2012 to October 31, 2013 would be paid by the Federal Government.”

 

He added that though the decision had been communicated to the market operator, the unions suggested that BPE should escalate the matter to the Vice President and the Chairman of the National Council on Privatisation (NCP) for consideration and resolution. “Papers to the NCP on the matter are being completed,” it said.

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