Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom at the weekend disclosed that his administration was exploring possibilities of clearing the back log of salary arrears owed workers.
He spoke with newsmen shortly after a meeting with labour leaders in Benue State at the Benue Peoples House.
Governor Ortom explained that negotiations were ongoing with financial institutions to buy off the debt profile of the state and restructure it so that it could be spread over a long period of time in order to make repayment easier.
He said the executive council had received the green light from the State House of Assembly to borrow but that the Debt Management Office and Federal Ministry of Finance were yet to give their approval noting that he would not rest on his oars until that was achieved.
The Governor lamented the low internally revenue generation capacity of the state due to suspension of the implementation of the revenue law following appeals from stakeholders to that effect, adding that the federal allocation to the state was also not enough to take care of the huge wage bill in the state.
While appreciating the understanding and patience of workers in the state, the Governor stated that prudent management of resources by his administration and series of verification exercises had succeeded in reducing the state’s wage bill from over N8.2 billion to N7.8 billion even with the implementation of minimum wage for primary school teachers.
According to him, the N69 billion arrears of salaries, pensions and gratuities that his administration inherited from the previous one had been reduced to N40 billion, saying the huge figure was as a result of shortfalls from the federation account.
He appealed to workers to resume work and bring creative ideas that could bring a permanent solution to the salary challenge rather continuing with their strike which he said cannot solve the problem.