The Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, yesterday identified the continued existence of ghost workers as a major challenge, saying the Federal Government was still not sure of the actual number of people in its employ.
Adeosun who appeared in the House of Representatives in continuation of the sectoral debates on the diversification of the economy, stated that the 1.2 million official figure of government workers was yet to be confirmed.
The Minister who said the number of government staff should be less than the official estimate, however, stressed that government was committed to providing a lasting solution to the ghost workers syndrome as it would save it money that can be invested into key sectors.
She explained that so far government has through the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System (IPPIS) removed 43,122 fraudulent payroll entries with a corresponding reduction in the monthly wage bill of N4.2 billion.
Fielding questions on how the government intends to diversify the economy through agriculture with farmers complaining of shortages in fertilizer supply, Adeosun said that the current administration inherited a debt of N60 billion owed suppliers of the product by the previous administration.
But she immediately assured that the payment of the debt has commenced following a presidential directive and this would lead to them making new supplies.
The Minister who admitted that the country was experiencing a declining growth in GDP and an increasing level of unproductive debt, still promised it would deliver on policies that will diversify the economy.
She said government would not only focus on increasing efficiency in the collection and management of non-oil revenue such as VAT and Custom duties, it would also invest in infrastructure.
She said the Federal Government has matched its words with action with regard to economic diversification, pointing to key actions as the 30 per cent increase of total expenditure on infrastructure with N1.8 trillion slated for transportation, roads, housing, power and health.
She listed expected outcome from the investment in infrastructure in these sectors to include renewed industrialisation, job and wealth creation as well as accelerated GDP growth.
Adeosun said the government will use all the resources at its disposal to improve on the ease-of-doing business in its focus sectors of agriculture, solid minerals and manufacturing.
She said: “Nigeria has faced a tough economic landscape in the past 24 months. But we believe that the toughest period is behind us even as we learn and recalibrate policy choices.”