Governor Douye Diri of Bayelsa has signed the 2023 Appropriation Bill 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.
Presenting the two bills for assent at the Government House in Yenagoa, speaker of the House of Assembly, Abraham Ingobere, explained that Bayelsa and local government workers would be required to contribute eight per cent of their salaries toward their retirement.
Mr Ingobere equally said that the Bayelsa government and local government councils, as their employers, would contribute 10 per cent on their behalf.
He disclosed that political officeholders were expected to contribute 10 per cent of their salaries while the state government and local government councils contribute 15 per cent on their behalf upon their retirement or disengagement from the service.
On the 2023 Appropriation Law, Mr Ingobere said the initial amount presented to the assembly for consideration was N385.21 billion, but after consultation with ministries, departments and agencies, the figure was increased by N4 billion.
The speaker said the increase brought the total amount to N389.37 billion for the 2023 fiscal year.
While assenting to the bills, Mr Diri said the Contributory Pension Law would put an end to the long delay and harrowing experience retirees passed 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 and political office holders both at the state and local government levels.
He noted that through the contributory and collaborative approach, the scheme provided that the employer shall contribute 10 per cent of their consolidated monthly salaries.
Mr Diri assured workers that government would ensure that proper machinery was put in place to engage only reputable pension fund administrators to manage the funds in accordance with pension regulations.
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.