The Federal Ministry of Finance says it saves the Federal Government N2.29 billion monthly since December 2015 by eliminating 23,846 ghost workers from its payroll.

This is contained in a statement on Sunday in Abuja by Mr Festus Akanbi, Special Adviser, Media, to the Minister of Finance.

It stated that the salary bill for February 2016 had reduced by N2.293 billion when compared to December 2015.

According to the ministry, the figure represents a percentage of the number of non-existing workers who had hitherto been receiving salary from various ministries, departments and agencies.

According to the statement, its findings are made possible due to ongoing Bank Verification Number (BVN) staff audit and enrollment to the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS).

It stated that the findings showed that some civil servants’ salaries were not consistent with the names linked to the accounts into which their salaries were paid.

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It stated that some individuals in this category were either receiving salary payments from multiple sources, parastatals or they were non-existent workers.

It stated that the suspected cases of ghost workers were further being investigated in conjunction with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

“The Federal Government is also taking actions to pursue recovery of salary balances in bank accounts as well as any pension contributions in respect of the deleted workers.

“This involves active collaboration with the concerned banks and the National Pension Commission (Pencom).

“The Ministry noted that the Military Pension Board had revised the amount payable for its due pension contributions on a monthly basis by N575m, following its annual verification for military retirees.

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“This reduced the number of pensioners by 19,203 as a result of deaths since the last verification in 2012.

“The Federal Government, in its efforts to reduce personnel cost, is determined to continue the verification programme on a regular periodic basis,” it stated.

The statement reiterated the ministry’s dedication to duty in managing government’s personnel costs which represented over 40 per cent of total government expenditure.

It states that the ministry plans to undertake periodic checks and utilise Computer Assisted Audit Techniques under its new Continuous Audit Programme.

“This will ensure that all payments are accurate and valid. Requirements for new entrants joining the Federal Civil Service have also been enhanced to prevent the introduction of fictitious employees in future.

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“The ongoing exercise, which is part of the cost-saving and anti-corruption agenda of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, is key to funding the deficit in the 2016 budget.

“This is because savings made will ultimately reduce the amount to be borrowed,” it stated.

The statement also addressed the recent call by the leadership of the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria (ASCSN) that the panel members investigating the cases of indicted civil servants be drawn from both government and labour.

The ministry explained that the request could not be acceded to, as the investigations were of a criminal nature and would therefore be handled by the appropriate investigative agencies.

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