Bayelsa - Bayelsa Government said on Tuesday it earmarked about N1.25 billion for the payment of gratuity to pensioners in the state this year.
Gov. Seriake Dickson, who disclosed this in Yenagoa when chairmen and secretaries of various trade unions in the state visited him, said the payment would commence on Jan. 31.
Dickson explained that the amount was realised from the state government's monthly savings for the purpose.
According to him, government had made available the amount for the payment of pensioners' gratuity and allowances.
He said: ``In line with the promise we made a couple of weeks ago, our government will by Thursday, hand over a cheque of N500 million to the Head of Service and his team, to begin the payment of retirees’ pensions, allowances and gratuities.''
The governor noted that though the backlog of pensions predated his administration, the state government however decided to settle the debt in line with its restoration agenda.
Dickson said the meeting with the trade unions was convened to discuss some critical issues relating to government's plan of beefing up its Internally Generated Revenue (IGR), as well as incentives for workers in the state.
``We have taken some decisions but out of my usual respect for the labour leaders, I thought we should have a closer meeting where we can fine tune some of these policies,” he said.
On the welfare package for civil servants, Dickson said government would build low cost housing estates, provide health insurance scheme and on-the-job training, to enhance their productivity.
He expressed government’s appreciation to civil servants and their unions for their support in the ongoing staff verification, which he said was yielding positive results.
``I know the support that your leadership has been giving our staff verification team. Your chairpersons and others on that board are doing very well, and working together.
``We have been able to address the problem of ghost workers and fake names,'' Dickson stated.
Responding on behalf of the labour leaders, the state Chairperson of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Mrs Ebiwou Koku-Obiyai, commended the government's resolve to settle the backlog of pensioners' gratuity.
She urged the government to facilitate the process of implementing all that was accruable to workers in the state.
The NLC chairperson pledged workers' support to enable the government to succeed in implementing its development programmes.