16 November 2017

Nigeria: To Boost Workers' Morale, Govt Renews N5.4bn Insurance Premium

Abuja — The federal government has announced a recommencement of the compulsory Group Life Insurance coverage for federal civil servants.

This comes fourteen months after the federal government exposed its assets and workforce to uncertainties and hazards due to its inability to renew its N5.4billion annual coverage.

The permanent secretary, Service Welfare Office (SWO), in the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation (OHSCF), Mrs. Didi Walson Jack, made the announcement during a quarterly breakfast meeting with Labour in preparation for the joint council meeting yesterday in Abuja.

The service welfare boss stated that the meeting was also called to intimate labour leaders, civil servants and next of kin of deceased officers about the life-touching policy of government to enable them benefit from the scheme.

Walson Jack explained that the payment of premium was a compulsory scheme meant to motivate workers to boost their productivity and reduce the incidence of infractions of the civil service rules.

According to her, prior to the recommencement, the Scheme had not been in tune with global best practices and, as such, it failed to benefit civil servants as expected.

Jack, under whose purview the Group Life Insurance Scheme falls, stated that, for now, it covers only death and disappearance of civil servants in active service

According to her, the Group Life policy cost is to be borne 100 percent by government with no deductions from workers' salaries.

She noted that it was mainly for family protection, to help settle expenses incurred, to encourage loyalty, to allow cash flow and to ensure tax advantage.

She further said that the scheme, which is renewable, has been remodelled for effectiveness and efficiency in order to address the drawbacks, enhance the benefits derivable and, thus, bring it in line with global best practices.

The permanent secretary disclosed that government was spending a huge amount of money on the scheme and will stop at nothing to ensure that entitlements are paid to the next of kin of deceased workers promptly.

She said, "We have taken it upon ourselves to intimate and enlighten labour leaders on critical welfare plans of government to enable them disseminate information to their constituents."

According to her, the only role expected of the next of kin is prompt report of death or disappearance of workers and the presentation of death certificate in exchange of letter of administration, which is to be issued by the budget office.

Hajiya Rabi Badamasi of the Budget Office, however, blamed the inability and delay by the next of kin of deceased civil servants to obtain the letter of administration, which would have eased payment, on their failure to present a written 'will'.

She urged labour leaders to sensitise their members on the importance of writing will as death comes unannounced.

National president, Nigerian Civil Servants Union, Comrade Kiri Mohammed, who commended the scheme, however, lambasted the underwriters of the policy for not carrying them along.

He promised that labour will remain social partners of government if the latter fulfils its promises and upholds agreements, saying that industrial unrests do not benefit anyone.

LEADERSHIP gathered that the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation (HOSCF) and the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) selected 20 underwriters and 108 insurance brokers to take the N5.4billion Group Life insurance of the federal government with immediate commencement of premium commitment.

Our findings further revealed that the underwriters for the government in the Group Life Insurance were selected in compliance with Section 4 (5) of the Pension Reform Act, 2014 which states that "every employer shall maintain a group life insurance policy in favour of each employee for a minimum of three times the annual total emolument of the employee and premium shall be paid not later than the date of commencement.

FEC Approves N458m To Engage Consultants To Revive Economy

... .Okays N27bn for Gombe-Biu road

The federal government has approved the engagement of Malaysian-based consultants to conduct a study that will aid the implementation of the National Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) at the cost of N458 million.

The minister of budget and national planning, Udo Udoma, disclosed this to State House correspondents after the federal executive council meeting presided over by Vice PresidentYemi Osinbajo at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

According to him, the job of the consultant is to identify relevant stakeholders in both private and the public sectors for the implementation of the economic recovery and growth plan of the federal government.

He explained that the study would be conducted on agriculture, transportation, power, gas and manufacturing sectors of the economy.

The minister said the duration of the study, which is in three phases, is expected to last a minimum of 13 weeks, with each phase costing $500,000.

He said, "Today, the federal executive council approved a memorandum that was brought by the Ministry of Budget and National Planning to retain some consultants to help us to conduct some pilot labs.

"This is part of our implementation strategy for the economic recovery and growth plan and so we intend to conduct three labs - one in agriculture and transportation, one in power and gas and one in manufacturing and processing.

"The key objectives of the labs are as follows: one to identify all relevant key stakeholders from the public and private sector that are crucial in the delivery and implementation of the ERGP initiative so as to create ownership early on in the development process.

"We will review and re-evaluate the ERGP and sectoral plans against set targets and progress, and will include identifying gaps in the current eco system and the key success factors.

"We will further deliver detailed three-phase implementation programmes with line by line implementation activities. We will identify entry point projects, we will identify key performance indicators, breaking down silos and encouraging key players. Now the focus of the lab is to mobilise private sector investment to finance specific capital projects as, you know, public resources are limited, so these labs will bring in private sector players.

"So what council has approved today is that we bring in some consultants who did a similar thing in Malaysia to try to help us build our own capacity; they will just help us at the beginning, and after that we will take over and do it ourselves.

According to Udo Udoma, the N458million fee will cover the cost of retaining the Malaysian consultants for about three months.

During his briefing, the minister of power, works and housing, Babatunde Fashola, disclosed that the federal executive council had also approved the construction of Gombe-Biu Road at the cost of N27 billion.

He said the road, which connects Gombe and Borno states, will take 24 months to complete.

Fashola said: "We presented two documents, one was a memorandum that required Council's approval and the other was a note to inform Council. These are important because they follow closely and inter- relate with the economy and recovery plan.

"The first, which was a memo, was a contract of the Gombe - Biu Road that connects Gombe State to Borno and also leads to Adamawa and Yobe. The contract was for N 27.23bn for 117 km.The entire road excludes the 9km that had been constructed by the Gombe State government."

The power, works and housing minister went on to state the economic importance of the road.

"The road supports agriculture, allows access to our power plant - Dadin Kowa hydro power plants. It also helps security logistics - to move personnel and troops to respond to distress calls. It is also going to be critical in the resettlement of IDPs. It's part of the North East Development plan so it ticks all the boxes in terms of development and so on, and also as far as budget implementation is concerned, this is one further step in that direction," he said.

Fashola also said the the council approved the Revised National Building Code.

According to him, the new code responds to the needs of people living with disabilities, though it is coming eight years behind schedule.

He said: "This code is eight years behind its scheduled date; the first code was delivered in 2006 and it was revised in 2009 and since then it was stalled.

"Needless to say, we have completed and approved the new code at the National Council of Housing which we posted in August this year. It has national binding already and (this was) just to inform council."

"The information that is critical is that it first adopts international building code standards and it also seeks to improve fire protection systems in buildings, public and private," he said.

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