The Bank Verification Number (BVN) scheme and the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) have erased 23,846 non-existent workers from the Federal Government’s payroll, thereby reducing the administration’s February wage bill by N2.293 billion.
According to the Federal Ministry of Finance, in a statement signed by Special Assistant, Media to the Minister of Finance, Festus Akanbi, “this figure represents a percentage of the number of non-existent workers who had hitherto been receiving salary from various ministries, departments and agencies. It was further explained that the investigation of other suspected cases continues in conjunction with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).”
The BVN is a number that uniquely identifies each bank’s customer for “Know Your Customer” (KYC) purposes, and is being currently used, together with IPPIS, rather than requiring the physical presence of each member of staff for biometric capture at the initial stage of verification.
With the adoption of the BVN platform to audit and sanitise the salary payment system, the ministry said, “it has so far checked the details of about 312,000 civil servants currently enrolled on IPPIS, a development said to have led to the discovery of a high level of irregularities in salary payment.
“In some instances, the exercise showed that the names of some civil servants whose salaries are being processed are not consistent with the names linked to the accounts into which their salaries are paid. Individuals in this category are therefore either receiving salary payments from multiple sources (which could be different parastatals for example), or they are non-existent workers.”
The ministry also revealed that 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.
In the statement, ministry noted “the Military Pension Board has revised the amount payable for its due pension contributions on a monthly bsis by N575 million, following its annual verification exercise for military retirees. This reduced the number of pensioners by 19,203 as a result of deaths since the last verification exercise in 2012. The Federal Government, in its efforts to reduce personnel cost, is determined to continue the verification programme on a regular periodic basis.”
Since personnel costs represent over 40 per cent of total government expenditure, the ministry explained that the Federal Government would continue to strengthen its payroll controls as it plans to undertake periodic checks and to utilise computer assisted audit techniques under its new continuous audit programme.
The initiative, according to the statement, “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.
“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, as savings made will ultimately reduce the amount to be borrowed.”